London: Placed in an unenviable position to pull off a ‘mission impossible’, Pakistan posted 315 for nine against Bangladesh in their last league stage encounter of the World Cup, here Friday.
Aware that the situation demanded them to beat Bangladesh by 300-plus runs to qualify for the semifinals, Pakistan needed to put on board a total of no less than 450-plus to stand a chance. They now need to dismiss Bangladesh for seven runs or less to qualify for the semifinals.
It seemed the 1992 champions are resigned to the fact that such a victory would remain out of their reach and it was business as usual for them. After electing to bat, Pakistan owed their total to young batsmen Imam-ul-Haq (100) and Babar Azam (96), as they added 157 runs for the second wicket.
While Imam, aged 23, became the youngest Pakistani to score a hundred in a World Cup game, Azam missed out on his second century in the tournament by just four runs. Imad Wasim’s quick-fire 26-ball 43 took Pakistan past 300. The intent to get that improbable total was missing in opener Fakhar Zaman as he took 31 balls to score his 13.
Imam and Babar too batted in their usual fashion, showing no urgency to get quick runs. Their partnership was broken when Mohammad Saifuddin trapped Azam with a dipping yorker. Azam’s knock came off 98 balls, with 11 shots to the fence. The bespectacled left-handed Imam was joined at the crease by the seasoned Mohammad Hafeez (27) and they raised a 66-run stand for the third wicket.
Imam completed his seventh ODI hundred with a single off left-arm Mustafizur Rahman in the 42nd over of the innings but was soon out hit-wicket. Hafeez swept a spinner straight to a fielder in the deep. Had it not been for Wasim’s knock, Pakistan would have struggled to reach 300. Since their defeat against arch-rivals India, Pakistan have recorded three wins on the trot. They can wrap up their campaign on a high with a win.