On Sunday 23rd June, the two out of form teams met at the Home of cricket, Lords. Pakistan ended up winning the match by 49 runs subsequently knocking South Africa out of the tournament, who have endured a horrid time since arriving in England.
It wasn’t an error free win from Pakistan but for starters mid-way through the tournament they finally got their playing Xl right, if not the batting order. Pakistan raced away to 50 in only the 8th over with Imam cover driving beautifully & Fakhar butchering the ball as he usually does, which had most people tweeting “the other Pakistan has finally turned up.” It wasn’t to last long & brilliance from Imran Tahir pegged Pakistan back.
Hafeez played a strange inning & he looked eager to get out way before he actually did. Then arrived Haris Sohail, playing only his 2nd match of the tournament. From the very first ball, Haris timed the ball sweetly. The match hung in balance but by the time Haris finished Pakistan were clear favorites. The momentum shifted when Haris took on Rabada, first on-drive that had De Kock & Du Plessis showing their frustration to Rabada & then the shot of the day, when he stepped away expecting a short delivery & cut Rabada away for a six over point. Haris finished with 89 off 59 balls, his best international innings to date & with Babar contributing 69 & Imad’s cameo propelled Pakistan to 308, a challenging target on a pitch that had some turn.
With each spell this tournament, Amir has looked even more threatening & has been Pakistan’s only stand-out player. He struck early with his first ball, dismissing Amla, who has been a shadow of himself lately. Except for a brief partnership between De Kock & Du Plessis, South Africa never really threatened Pakistan’s target. With Shadab amongst the wickets & Wahab wiping up the tail with his precise yorkers, South Africa felt short by 49 runs, a target which always looked beyond their reach.
Make no mistake, it wasn’t an error-free match from Pakistan. They dropped as many as 6 chances, Amir alone responsible for 3 but South Africa who are suffering from retirement, injuries & poor form of age-ing players couldn’t take advantage of it. Pakistan has by far been the worst fielding side in this tournament & there are no signs of any improvement even in the win. You can’t compete with the top teams like India, England, Australia & NewZealand with this fielding performance.
For now, Pakistan lives to fight another day & are still in the tournament with a glimmer of hope which is dependent on other teams. The best scenario for Pakistan team would be if tournament favourites England loses 2 of their remaining 3 games against Australia, New Zealand & India but before that Pakistan has to win all of it’s remaining 3 matches, that includes a match against New Zealand, the side they have only beaten once in last 10 games & Bangladesh against whom Pakistan has lost all 4 matches since last world cup. Best of luck team Pakistan, you would need it.