Pakistan 315 for 9 (Imam 100, Babar 96, Mustafizur 5-75) beat Bangladesh 221 (Shakib 64, Shaheen Afridi 6-35) by 94 runs
The ridiculous fantasies of engineering an improbable win aside, this was an excellent Pakistan performance, subduing a side that three weeks ago, most would have fancied to turn them over. It meant they became the first team to bow out at a World Cup with four consecutive wins, also ending a streak of four successive Bangladesh victories over them.
Pakistan needed to win by a record margin, of the kind Uganda women handed out to Mali women – posting 314 and then skittling them for 10. They couldn’t. However, they found a gem in Shaheen Afridi, who eclipsed Shahid Afridi to pick the best figures for Pakistan in World Cup – 6 for 35 – as Pakistan bowed out in front of a sea of green – both set of fans included – with a 94-run win at Lord’s.
The win was set up by Imam Ul Haq, who got himself on the famous Lord’s board with a sixth ODI century. Babar Azam missed joining him, but made a sublime 96 as Pakistan posted 315 for 9. Then with the ball, there was nothing ordinary about Shaheen Afridi, the youngest man to take a five-fer at a World Cup, his six wickets cleaning up Bangladesh inside 45 overs. Only Shakib Al Hasan, who finished the World Cup with 606 runs, offering any sort of steel with a industrious 64.
Pakistan won the toss and opted to bat – batting second would have eliminated them straightaway – but any ideas of galloping to a 400-plus evaporated quickly. Bangladesh intelligently opened up with offspinner Mehidy Hasan to counter Fakhar Zaman’s threat. He would concede only six runs in the four overs he bowled while the opener was at the crease, and when he holed out at point to Mohammad Saifuddin, he had scored 13 off 31.
To their credit, Imam and Babar decided to play for a morale-boosting win, rather than aiming for the impossble, negotiating Shakib’s spin threat expertly. It also helped that Mashrafe Mortaza, Bangladesh’s captain with a wonky knee and in his last lap, was inaccurate with his lines, thereby allowing them to target him.
Him being hit out of the attack meant Saifudin and Mustafizur Rahman brought back somewhat earlier than had been planned. During the course of his innings, Babar became the most prolific run-scorer at a World Cup for Pakistan, surpassing Javed Miandad’s 437 runs at the 1992 World Cup. He fell four runs shy of what would have been a richly deserved hundred, but by then, Pakistan were well on their way to a potentially match-winning score.
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Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.