Pakistan finds another Afridi to end campaign on a high

Imam-ul-Haq's run-a-ball hundred, Babar Azam's 98-ball 96 took Pakistan to 315 for nine before left-arm pacer Shaheen Afridi rattled Bangladesh with a six-for.

Shaheen Afridi's six for 35 overshadowed Imam-ul-Haq's century and a scintillating 96 by Babar Azam, leading Pakistan to a big win over Bangladesh.   -  AP

Imam-ul-Haq scored a gritty ton. Shaheen Afridi scalped a six-for. Pakistan defeated Bangladesh by 94 runs at Lord’s on Friday.

But all that wasn’t enough as the Sarfaraz Ahmed-led side crashed out of the World Cup despite finishing its group stage on a winning note.

Coming into the last group stage fixture, Pakistan had an herculean task of beating Bangladesh by 300-plus runs in a bid to keep its hopes alive for the semifinals. But Pakistan could amass 315-9 in 50 overs — needing to dismiss Bangladesh for seven runs or less.

As it happened| Pakistan vs Bangladesh

In pursuit of its chase, Bangladesh rode on Shakib-Al Hasan’s knock of 64 to finish at 221. While none of the other Bangladesh batsmen could capitalise on good starts, Shakib kept the momentum going, and in the process, overtook India’s Rohit Sharma as the leading run-scorer of the tournament. He amassed 606 runs with five fifties and two hundreds, and is now the third highest run-scorer in a single World Cup behind Sachin Tendulkar (673 runs in 2003) and Matthew Hayden (659 in 2007).

While Shakib looked set for another big score, he was caught behind by Sarfaraz off Shaheen — and that was the end of Bangladesh. Featuring in his first World Cup, the 19-year-old Shaheen had a memorable outing as he finished the tournament with 16 wickets.

A win against Bangladesh saw Pakistan matching New Zealand’s tally of 11 points, yet it bowed out on net run-rate. Aware that his team required minimum 450 runs to stand a chance of beating the opponent and reach the last-four, captain Sarfaraz had admitted on the match eve that his team will have a realistic approach.

And that was evident on the field as Pakistan took things easy despite winning the toss and batting first. With opener Fakhar Zaman dismissed early, Pakistan went on the defensive and could put up only 38 runs in the first 10 overs.

However, Imam and Babar Azam (96) put together 157 runs for the second wicket, slowly bringing Pakistan back into the game. While the 23-year-old Imam became the youngest Pakistan cricketer to score a hundred in a World Cup game, Azam missed out on a ton by four runs.

After Babar and Imam’s departure, Pakistan lost wickets at regular intervals, forcing Imad Wasim to play a quick-fire 26-ball 43 to guide Pakistan past 300.

For Bangladesh, left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman scalped three wickets to reach 100 wickets in ODIs.

After going down to India, Pakistan registered four back-to-back wins. But in the end, it was another heartbreak for the Men in green!

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