Pakistan secured a resounding seven-wicket triumph over Bangladesh at the iconic Eden Gardens, rekindling their hopes of progressing to the semi-finals of the 50-overs World Cup.
Bangladesh, having opted to bat first, faced an early batting collapse and struggled to recover, eventually managing a modest total of 204 before being all out in the 46th over. Pakistan’s three-pronged pace attack showcased their prowess with both the new ball and in the death overs, with Mahmudullah (56) being the only Bangladeshi batsman to reach a half-century.
Pakistan’s openers, Fakhar Zaman (81) and Abdullah Shafique (68), played a pivotal role in their team’s victory, forging a crucial 128-run partnership. This win not only secured two valuable points for Pakistan but also significantly improved their net run-rate.
The win propelled Babar Azam’s team to the fifth position in the points table after securing their third victory in seven matches, keeping their semi-final aspirations alive.
Pakistan’s head coach, Grant Bradburn, had previously lamented the lack of swing in India, which had blunted Pakistan’s renowned pace attack. However, this match saw a resurgence of their fast bowlers, with Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Wasim, and Haris Rauf collectively claiming eight of the ten Bangladesh wickets.
Left-arm quick Afridi (3-23) set the tone by taking his 100th ODI wicket in his very first over, dismissing Tanzid Hasan lbw. Afridi then swiftly removed Najmul Hossain Shanto, and Haris Rauf (2-36) accounted for Mushfiqur Rahim, reducing Bangladesh to a precarious 23-3.
Litton Das (45) and Mahmudullah tried to stabilize the innings, but Bangladesh could not muster the momentum they needed. Despite a resilient 43 from captain Shakib Al Hasan, Mohammad Wasim’s three quick wickets in his final seven deliveries hastened Bangladesh’s downfall.
Fakhar Zaman, who replaced Imam-ul-Haq at the top of the order, found his form and, alongside Abdullah, dictated the terms from the outset. Fakhar reached his fifty with a spectacular six off Taskin Ahmed, but shortly afterward, he fell short of a century. Even with his departure, Pakistan’s victory was just a formality.
This commanding performance has revitalized Pakistan’s hopes in the World Cup, and they will be eager to carry this momentum forward as they strive to secure a spot in the semi-finals.