by: Atika Mehboob TN Sport Pakistan:
In a spectacular farewell to the 2023 World Cup, England, soon-to-be dethroned world champions, showcased shades of their former dominance with a commanding 93-run victory over Pakistan at Eden Gardens. This victory, fueled by Ben Stokes’ powerful performance and David Willey’s spirited all-round display in his final international appearance, sealed England’s seventh-place finish in the group stage, earning them qualification for the 2025 Champions Trophy.
Willey’s last hurrah saw him reach the milestone of his 100th and final ODI wicket, contributing significantly to England’s impressive total of 337 for 9. Stokes, with his second forceful outing in quick succession, played a pivotal role in setting up the imposing score. The spin duo of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid then took control on the spin-friendly pitch, securing four crucial wickets to quash any hopes of a Pakistani comeback.
Despite the potential for an exciting contest between England and Pakistan, both teams failed to meet pre-tournament expectations, exiting as also-rans. For Pakistan, the disappointment began with Jos Buttler winning the toss and opting to bowl. Facing the daunting task of chasing down a massive target to stay in semi-final contention, their chances diminished as England’s openers, Jonny Bairstow and Dawid Malan, propelled them to 72 for 0 in the powerplay, the highest for England in the tournament.
Pakistan’s pursuit of 338 quickly turned into a futile effort as Willey’s early strikes reduced them to 30 for 2 within 6.4 overs. From thereon, England dominated, with key wickets falling, including Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan. The loss officially eliminated Pakistan from semi-final contention and confirmed England’s seventh-place finish in the group, securing their participation in the 2025 Champions Trophy.