Pakistan needs to win its last T20 World Cup fixture against Bangladesh at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday and then hope for other results to go its way in a bid to make it to the semifinals.
It’s a tricky situation for sure, but the players and the team management want to focus on their game and not think about the ‘uncontrollable’ factors. Pakistan’s higher Net Run Rate, which is currently +1.117, means a win would see Babar Azam’s men leapfrog India if Rohit Sharma’s side loses against Zimbabwe. India plays last in Group 2.
However, if India’s match is a washout or if it wins, then the men in blue will leave Pakistan behind. Pakistan can even topple South Africa if the latter gets no more than one point from its game against Netherlands, as Pakistan will advance on more wins.
“We are sandwiched between the two games. There will be a result which we will know before, which might be in our favour, or might not be. There is a match after that also, so we can’t look behind or too far ahead. We have realised through some harsh lessons that we can only do things that are in our control,” Pakistan batter Shan Masood said.
After losing to India and Zimbabwe early on in the tournament, Pakistan bounced back, beating South Africa via Duckworth-Lewis method in the last outing. From being down at 44 for four in the seventh over, the team bounced back strongly, riding on half-centuries by Shadab Khan and Iftikhar Ahmed. Defending 185, Shaheen Afridi claimed three wickets, while Shabad Khan grabbed a brace to put South Africa on the mat in a rain-marred outing.
“Losing two games was not easy. But after that, the team has responded well in doing whatever we can control. We are just going to control our performances in the first 20 overs, and once the break is done, we will analyse and try to control the next 20 overs, whether it’s with the ball or bat,” Masood said.
At the Adelaide Oval, 160-plus scores would be competitive and with a strong batting line-up, Pakistan will be hoping for its captain Babar Azam to strike form. Considered one of the top batters in the world, Babar could score only 14 runs in four outings so far, and in a crunch game, the team would want him to step up and deliver.
“The timing of the losses proved costly for us because we are still not in that top two position. But we haven’t lost hope,” Masood, who has scored 110 runs in the tournament so far, said.
“I will bring in the India game here, we were winning for most part and we played good cricket. Life teaches us harsh lessons and this was one of them. The way it affected the boys, they lost sleep, their morale went down. And how we responded after these setbacks showed our character and it was a big thing…”
Masood and the team management will hope that the team shows character against Bangladesh, which comes into the game after a defeat against India. Bangladesh squandered a chance at the Adelaide Oval a couple of days ago, and even though its advancement to the top-four looks grim, technical consultant Sridharan Sriram believes that his team has the potential to beat Pakistan. “We believe we can beat Pakistan, but qualifying to the semifinals is not in our hands, unfortunately,” Sriram said.
In the game against India, Bangladesh started off perfectly, riding on Litton Das’ half-century, but after the rain break, the team lost the plot with the middle-order crumbling.
“To come that close, if at the start of the game had anybody said that we’ll lose to India by five runs, I think anybody would take it. So, we got ourselves in an opportunity where we could have beaten India but we were not able to cross the line. But having come too close, the boys gained a lot of confidence,” Sriram said.
And he would hope that his middle-order - especially captain Shakib Al Hasan - steps up and puts up enough runs on the board for the bowling department, spearheaded by Taskin Ahmed and Mustafizur Rahman, to defend.
With no forecasts of rain, Adelaide Oval is expected to be a packed house when the two rivals meet in an ICC event after three years.