Pakistan eyes freak result against Bangladesh for improbable semifinal spot

The road to the knockout stage for Sarfaraz Ahmed and his men is just an improbable mathematical calculation and that too if Pakistan wins the toss and bats first.

A semifinal qualification looks like mission possible for Pakistan.   -  Reuters Photo

With its semifinal chances reduced to just a mathematical possibility, former champion Pakistan will need an improbable win over Bangladesh to have a shot at making the semifinals of the World Cup when the two sides clash here on Friday.

Pakistan’s resurgence in the World Cup looked eerily close to the 1992 Cup-winning edition before India’s loss to England dented its hopes of a semifinal spot and when New Zealand went down to the host last night, it was almost over for them.

The road to the knockout stage for Sarfaraz Ahmed and his men is just an improbable mathematical calculation and that too if Pakistan wins the toss and bats first.

Read: Pakistan only interested in finishing on a high, says captain Sarfaraz Ahmed

If Pakistan loses the toss and is asked to field, its minuscule semifinal hopes will be over even before the first ball is bowled at the Lord’s.

New Zealand finished its engagements at 11 points from nine matches after its 119-run loss to England but despite the massive defeat, the Kiwis are way ahead in terms of their net run-rate, which is +0.175, compared to Pakistan’s -0.792.

Currently placed fifth with nine points from eight matches, Pakistan faces the challenge of beating Bangladesh by 311 runs after posting 350 or by 316 runs after scoring 400, something which is practically impossible.

Following its loss to arch-rival India, Pakistan staged a remarkable comeback with wins over South Africa, New Zealand and Afghanistan, riding on some impressive performances by Babar Azam and Harris Sohail in the batting department.

Left-arm pacer Shaheen Afridi’s five-wicket haul against New Zealand was also a big positive as it added firepower to its bowling led by Mohammad Amir.

Also read: Bangladesh gears up for captain Mashrafe's World Cup farewell

Bangladesh, on the other hand, will rue its missed chances and would hope to bring some cheer to their fans back home with a solid performance against Pakistan, a team they had defeated in the 1999 edition.

Currently placed seventh, Bangladesh has been impressive in its wins against South Africa, Afghanistan and West Indies.

It has shown the stomach for a fight even in losses and Mashrafe Mortaza and his men will hope for a good outing against Pakistan on Friday.

Bangladesh has been too dependent on star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who has become the only cricketer to score 500 runs and claim 10 wickets in World Cup history.

Led by Shakib, Bangladesh has consistently crossed the 300-mark this World Cup but it is the bowling which has let the team down, especially the lack of form of skipper Mortaza.

Mustafizur Rahman’s variations, which fetched him five wickets, and Mohammad Saifuddin’s fifty helped the team give India a scare and Bangladesh will hope for a stronger show against Pakistan.

Squads:
  • Pakistan: Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Imam ul Haq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Shahdab Khan, Mohammed Hafeez, Mohammed Hasnain, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Wahab Riaz, Mohammed Aamir, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Asif Ali.
  • Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mahmuduallah Riyadh, Sabbir Rahaman, Mehidy Hasan Miraj, Mosaddek Hossain, Mohammed Saifuddin, Mustafizur Rahaman, Rubel Hossain, Liton Kumar Das, Abu Jayed, Mohammed Mithun.
  • Match Starts 3pm (IST).