Pakistan head to Lord’s on Friday hoping for a World Cup miracle to keep their semi-final dreams alive as they gear up to face Bangladesh. Sarfaraz Ahmed’s men will need to make ODI history if they are to oust New Zealand in the battle for fourth but have found it tricky against the Tigers recently. Bangladesh have performed well throughout the World Cup and are worth supporting to finish with a flourish.
Pakistan’s hopes of reaching the last four were effectively ended by England’s victory over New Zealand on Wednesday. To make the semi-finals they would need to win by over 300 runs, a feat never achieved in one-day history, in order to massively boost their currently inferior net run rate.
If Bangladesh win the toss and bat first then that is surely that for Pakistan, who had sparked hopes of reaching the knockout stages with three straight wins after losing three of their first four matches.
With morale likely to be low in the Pakistan camp, it presents Bangladesh with an opportunity to extend their winning run over the 1992 world champions to six matches.
The Tigers have been competitive in nearly all their matches at the World Cup thus far, Shakib Al Hasan proving the inspiration with both bat and ball.
As well as taking 11 wickets, the skipper has racked up 542 runs, becoming the first man in World Cup history to score over 500 runs and take more than 10 wickets in the tournament.
The 32-year-old has bounced back brilliantly after registering a golden duck in the opening game against India, recording two centuries and finishing as the team’s top run-scorer in four of eight matches.
The problem for Bangladesh is that Shakib hasn’t always had the support he needs from the rest of the batting line-up. Mushfiqur Rahim, who scored 99 the last time he faced Pakistan at last year’s Asian Cup, has proved an able deputy on occasions but has struggled for consistency at times.
If Bangladesh are to get over the line in their ODI debut at Lord’s, Shakib will need at least a couple of fruitful partnerships.
The man both Shakib, Rahim and the rest of the batsmen will need to watch out for is paceman Mohammad Amir. He is Pakistan’s leading wicket-taker with 16 and is the 12/5 favourite to be the top team bowler.
He took two wickets when Pakistan beat South Africa at Lord’s last month but it was another quick who was the pick of the bowlers that day.
Wahab Riaz finished with figures of 3-46 against the Proteas, his best performance at the World Cup so far, and a return to the home of cricket could again see him enjoy another productive afternoon.
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