by: Atika Mehboob TN Sport Pakistan:
Pakistan delivered a convincing performance at the World Cup, ending their longest losing streak at the tournament by defeating Bangladesh by seven wickets. This victory kept their slim hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals alive.
The match was dominated by Shaheen Shah Afridi, who became the fastest quick bowler to reach 100 ODI wickets and the leading wicket-taker in the current World Cup. His superb performance helped dismiss Bangladesh for 204. Fakhar Zaman, who had been recently recalled to the team, played a standout innings, scoring a vintage 74-ball 81, setting Pakistan on the path to victory and boosting their confidence and net run-rate.
From the beginning, it felt like a typical Pakistan performance. Afridi took a wicket in the first over, trapping Tanzid Hasan, and went on to take Najmul Hossain Shanto’s wicket in his next over. Haris Rauf added to the pressure by dismissing Mushfiqur Rahim, despite being hit for three boundaries in his first over.
Bangladesh managed to recover with a 79-run partnership between Litton Das and Mahmudullah, which helped stabilize their innings after the initial setbacks. However, Pakistan’s leg-spinner, Usama Mir, had an off day, struggling to maintain consistent lengths and getting punished, especially by Mahmudullah.
The turning point came when Litton was dismissed due to a poor shot against a delivery from Iftikhar Ahmed. This incident shifted the momentum in Pakistan’s favor. Shakib Al Hasan, although taking his time to get going, was eventually dismissed by Afridi, who produced a brilliant reverse-swinging delivery.
With reverse swing coming into play, Pakistan’s bowlers tightened their grip on the match, and Bangladesh’s lower-order batsmen struggled. Pakistan rotated their bowlers effectively under the captaincy of Babar Azam.
Bangladesh showed some intent only when Shakib decided to take on the spinners. Iftikhar and Mehidy Hasan Miraz were punished, but Rauf’s pace made the difference when he dismissed Shakib. Mohammad Wasim wrapped up the tail quickly, and Bangladesh folded for 204.
Pakistan’s openers had a steady start in the first three overs, with Fakhar beginning to loosen up. He hit a massive six off Taskin, which got him going. Fakhar’s innings was marked by regular sixes, and he, along with Abdullah Shafique, brought up a half-century partnership within the powerplay.
Shafique dominated Mustafizur Rahman, hitting three successive boundaries, while Fakhar reached his half-century with another six. Pakistan seemed on track for a ten-wicket win at one point, with Shafique hitting a spectacular six over cow corner.
Mehidy took three wickets, the only ones Pakistan lost, to slow their progress. Shafique was dismissed while sweeping, Babar holed out, and Fakhar was brave enough to pitch it up and get mistimed, ultimately falling for 81.
In the end, Mohammad Rizwan and Iftikhar’s flurry of boundaries saw Pakistan easily win with more than 17 overs to spare. This victory ended a period of disappointment for Pakistan, while Bangladesh was officially eliminated from the tournament. Pakistan showed the first signs of revival after a sluggish start.