Cricket World Cup 2023: Pakistan back in business, but is it too late?

Pakistan could still be out of the tournament even if they win their last two games against New Zealand and England

By Anis Sajan

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Pakistan's Shaheen Shah Afridi celebrates after taking the wicket of Bangladesh's Tanzid Hasan. — AFP
Pakistan's Shaheen Shah Afridi celebrates after taking the wicket of Bangladesh's Tanzid Hasan. — AFP

Published: Tue 31 Oct 2023, 9:09 PM

Pakistan have finally woken up and delivered a clinical performance against the hapless Bangladesh.

They bowled out The Tigers for 204 and chased down the target within 33 overs to stay in the hunt for a spot in the semifinals.

In the earlier six games, Shaheen Shah Afridi, who is known to pick wickets in his first over with his swing, was not at his best.

But on Tuesday, the strike bowler snapped up two wickets in his first two overs to set the template for the rest of the bowlers to follow and they were good to restrict Bangladesh to a below-par score.

It was refreshing to see Fakhar Zaman's return to form. The left-hander, who was struggling with a knee injury, returned to the playing eleven and rediscovered his touch.

Having scored just 126 runs in his previous seven innings in the 50 overs format, Fakhar needed runs for his own confidence as well as for his struggling team.

He did just that and more, hammering seven sixes at the Eden Gardens, a total that the whole Pakistan team had not managed in their earlier games.

With Abdullah Shafique playing another fine innings, Pakistan returned to winning ways.

Now, can they qualify for the semifinals? That’s the big question. They have two more games to go and need to win both if they hope to qualify.

But one result has to go their way, which is New Zealand losing to South Africa in Pune on Wednesday.

And should Pakistan beat New Zealand in their penultimate game, both teams will be on eight points.

Then comes the last game for Pakistan which is against bottom-placed England. Should they manage to beat them, then surely they will be in the race for the semifinals.

Yes, you can't rule out Afghanistan who are also in the race for semifinals with six points with an extra game to spare.

But they have to get past tough teams like South Africa and Australia in their last two games.

It's definitely going to be a nail-biting finish in the semifinals race.

For now, Pakistan's fans must be happy that their team have finally come to the party.


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