Pakistan was once again scrappy with the bat but managed to eke out a six-wicket victory over the Netherlands in the T20 World Cup on Sunday to keep its slim semifinal hopes alive.
The Dutchmen found Pakistan’s world-class pace attack too hot to handle on a bowler-friendly Optus Stadium track, managing only 91 for 9 in its 20 overs.
One of the batters, Bas de Leede (6) retired hurt after being hit below the eye by a snorter from Haris Rauf.
The target of 92 was never going to be an issue for Pakistan but even then it took the side 13.5 overs to complete the chase with ICC’s No. 1 ranked T20 batter Mohammed Rizwan managing 49 off 39 balls at an unimpressive strike-rate of 125.64.
With Bangladesh also getting the better of Zimbabwe in a thriller, Pakistan’s chances of remaining alive in the tournament increased.
The full credit for this win will go to the bowlers, who hardly put a foot wrong on the day as Shaheen Shah Afridi (1/19 in 4 overs) and Naseem Shah (1/11 in 4 overs) choked the run flow in the PowerPlay and the Dutch could never break the shackles.
Mohammed Wasim (2/15 in 3 overs) was very brisk during the back end while Shadab Khan reaped the fruits of this relentless pressure by the speed merchants with best figures of 3/10.
For the Dutch, the kind of extreme pace that they faced on the day isn’t something that they are accustomed to at the Associate level.
It was inevitable that they couldn’t really manage to get on top of the bowling as PowerPlay overs yielded only 18 runs. It was ball hitting the bat rather than other way round.
De Leede got a nasty one from Rauf and was on all fours before he had to be rushed off the field. One saw a big swelling under his right eye as he walked off the field.
The short ball also played into the psyche of the batters as Colin Ackermann’s run-a-ball 27 was the side’s top score. The only other batter to reach double figures was skipper Scott Edwards (15 off 20 balls).
Such was the domination of the Pakistani pace attack that the Netherlands managed a cumulative total of only five boundaries in 20 overs.
While batting, Babar Azam’s (4) run-out was unfortunate as he couldn’t beat a direct throw from former Proteas spinner Roelof van der Merwe (playing for his country of birth) while Fakhar Zaman (20 off 16 balls) smashed three fours before Edwards took a diving catch off seamer Brandon Glover’s delivery.
But Rizwan completed the chase with minimum fuss.