A lacklustre bowling display and a familiar batting collapse lead Pakistan to end their ICC World Cup 2023 campaign on a disappointing note with a 93-run loss against England in Kolkatta.
By PakPassion Staff (11th November, 2023)
England, led by captain Jos Buttler, chose to bat after winning the toss in their final match of the 2023 World Cup against Pakistan at Eden Gardens, extinguishing any hope for Pakistan to qualify for the semi-finals. The English openers faced an initial testing spell from Pakistan's Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf, delivering hostile bowling. However, England's openers gradually gained momentum in Kolkata.
Assisted by some erratic bowling from Rauf, which included three wides in his opening three overs, two of which went for four, England's openers started to flourish. They capitalized on loose deliveries, accumulating boundaries and pushing the scoring rate close to seven at the conclusion of the first Powerplay.
As the game progressed, Mohammad Wasim and the spinners slowed down England's momentum, restricting boundary opportunities. Despite resistance, Dawid Malan fell to Iftikhar Ahmed while attempting a reverse sweep.
The fall of Malan was followed by the dismissal of Jonny Bairstow, who tried to charge Haris Rauf but found the fielder at cover, leading to a temporary slowdown in England's scoring rate. In the 25th over, England survived a scare when Shaheen Afridi dropped a straightforward chance offered by Ben Stokes while he was on 10.
This missed opportunity proved costly as Stokes, benefiting from the let-off, unleashed an onslaught, hitting boundaries and elevating the scoring rate to 5.82 at the 35-over mark. Stokes, supported by Joe Root, further accelerated the innings, adding 36 runs between overs 36 and 40.
Despite the wickets of Stokes and Root falling to excellent deliveries from Shaheen Afridi, England's lower middle order, comprising Jos Buttler, Harry Brook, Moeen Ali, and David Willey, showcased a brilliant display of late hitting, propelling England's total beyond 300 to reach 337/9.
However, Pakistan's Haris Rauf, with a superb display of death bowling, removed these key English batsmen and executed a run-out of Jos Bulter, limiting what could have been a higher total for England.
In pursuit of England's formidable 337/9, Pakistan faced a challenging task from the start, requiring an immense margin of victory to impact their net run rate and secure a spot in the semi-finals. They would have needed to chase down the score in 6.4 overs to surpass New Zealand’s net run rate, an impossible feat. At this stage, the chase was about national pride.
England's bowlers, led by David Willey's exceptional spell, immediately exerted pressure on the Pakistani openers. Willey struck early, dismissing both Abdullah Shafique and Fakhar Zaman in the initial overs, leaving Pakistan's Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan to stabilize the innings.
Despite Babar's effort, his departure for 38 (45), caught at midwicket off Gus Atkinson, disrupted Pakistan's momentum. Mohammad Rizwan's resistance was cut short when he fell to Moeen Ali's deceptive round-the-wicket loopy delivery, compounded by his battle with cramps as he got out.
The England bowlers extracted a lot of turn from the wicket. Adil Rashid and Moeen capitalized on it, putting the batsmen under pressure. Rashid accounted for Saud Shakeel and Shadab Khan, showcasing his big-turning googlies, while Moeen, possibly in his final ODI appearance for England, added to the pressure by dismissing Iftikhar Ahmed.
Willey, in his farewell performance for England, claimed his third wicket, reaching a milestone of 100 ODI wickets by dismissing Agha Salman, who had briefly resisted with a half-century.
Despite late hitting from Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Wasim, and Haris Rauf contributing some big shots, it was insufficient to bridge the substantial gap as Pakistan, like England, bid farewell to the World Cup at the group stage.
England will be disappointed with their World Cup campaign, coming in as defending champions only to be knocked out in the group stages. But they will have some solace as they comprehensively defeated Pakistan in their last match.
Pakistan, on the other hand, will head back with a lot of soul-searching to do as their World Cup campaign never really gained momentum.