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Sarfaraz Ahmed

Pakistan face improbable ask to make semi-finals

Pakistan need to beat Bangladesh by a margin of over 300 runs to trump New Zealand, but against a team that has played a spirited brand of cricket all tournament, it’s an unlikely proposition

Overview

Pakistan v Bangladesh
Lord’s, London
2019 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, Match 43
Friday, 05 July; 10.30am local time; 09.30am GMT

The equation is simple, really. Not easy, but simple. Pakistan need to bat first. They then need to score 400 and dismiss Bangladesh for 84. That’s a win margin of 316 runs – never been achieved in the history of one-day cricket, let alone at a tournament such as the World Cup. Those margins will change depending on the scores, but the crux is that Pakistan will have to do the improbable to trump New Zealand and make the semi-finals. If Bangladesh bat first, then Pakistan are out even before the game begins.

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For a brief while there, Pakistan teased 1992 all over again. Just until last week, the timeline of their progression at this year’s event was identical to what it was 27 years ago. But this time, it wasn’t meant to be, at least not as of now, barring a miracle against Bangladesh. But Sarfaraz Ahmed’s team can be proud of the fight they have shown to come this far, after a slow start, and especially after the string of defeats they came into the tournament with.

Their opponents, Bangladesh, have put up a spirited performance this World Cup. Shakib Al Hasan has done practically just about everything a cricketer can do on the field. Bangladesh have ridden the wave of Shakib’s all-round excellence to compete against the top teams in the competition. They beat South Africa and Afghanistan, pulled off a record chase against West Indies, showed several moments of brilliance in a tall chase against Australia, and nearly beat New Zealand.

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Two proud teams who have given it their all only to be trumped by four teams that have simply been more clinical, professional and consistent. Can they come out one final time, though, and leave England with happy memories?

Key Players

Babar Azam (Pakistan): Pakistan’s No.3 has been remarkably consistent all tournament. He has a calm and mature head that allows for clarity in thinking as well as the right shot selection for the right situations.

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Mustafizur Rahman (Bangladesh): The left-arm pacer’s array of cutters and other variations came in handy against India as he helped Bangladesh restrict them to 314 despite a powerful start. Pakistan’s line-up is filled with some big-hitters, and Mustafizur’s battle against the likes of Fakhar Zaman and Haris Sohail could make for some riveting viewing.

Conditions

Friday should be sunny and rain-free. Lord’s traditionally has offered swing for the faster bowlers early on, but don’t expect teams to depart from the proven bat-first formula.

Squads

Pakistan: Sarfaraz Ahmed (c, wk), Asif Ali, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Amir, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Imam-ul-Haq, Shadab Khan, Shoaib Malik, Wahab Riaz, Haris Sohail, Imad Wasim, Fakhar Zaman

Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Abu Jayed, Liton Das (wk), Mahmudullah, Mehidy Hasan, Mohammad Mithun (wk), Mohammad Saifuddin, Mosaddek Hossain, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Shakib Al Hasan, Soumya Sarkar, Tamim Iqbal

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