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Pakistan Triumphs Over Bangladesh, Keeping Semi-final Hopes Alive

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Pakistan’s comprehensive seven-wicket victory over Bangladesh has rekindled their slim hopes of reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup. This triumph was fueled by an explosive performance from opener Fakhar Zaman and a fiery spell by Shaheen Shah Afridi, resulting in Bangladesh’s elimination from the tournament.

Shaheen Shah Afridi spearheaded Pakistan’s three-pronged pace attack with magnificent figures of 3/23, ultimately restricting Bangladesh to a meager total of 204 runs in 45.1 overs.

Fakhar Zaman, who missed five of Pakistan’s previous six matches due to a knee injury, made a triumphant return to the side, striking seven sixes and three fours on his way to a blazing 74-ball 81. Abdullah Shafique, his opening partner, played a quickfire 68 off 69 deliveries, contributing to a formidable 128-run opening partnership.

Just when it appeared that Pakistan was cruising to victory, off-spinner Mehidy Hasan Miraz (3/60) managed to dismiss both openers. However, with no scoreboard pressure, Pakistan comfortably chased down the target of 205 runs in only 32.3 overs.

This loss marked Bangladesh’s sixth consecutive defeat, making them the first team to be eliminated from the World Cup 2023 with two matches remaining. They will face Sri Lanka and Australia in their final two fixtures.

Following four previous defeats, Pakistan’s three wins from seven matches have kept their faint hopes of a semi-final berth alive. Their next crucial encounter is against New Zealand, followed by a final group-stage match against England.

Pakistan’s new opening pair, featuring both left and right-handed batsmen, started cautiously, negotiating two maiden overs against Bangladesh’s new ball bowlers, Shoriful Islam and Taskin Ahmed.

However, the Pakistani duo swiftly picked up the pace, surging past the 50-run mark within the Powerplay. Their aggression was evident when Zaman smashed Taskin Ahmed for a massive 99-meter six over square leg. The openers continued to assert dominance, with Shafique taking on Mustafizur Rahman, hitting three successive boundaries.

Zaman reached his 16th ODI half-century in just 51 balls, while Shafique secured his third half-century in 51 deliveries. Unfortunately, Zaman missed out on a well-deserved century, falling to a catch at midwicket off Mehidy’s bowling. Captain Babar Azam was dismissed for just 9 runs when he mistimed a shot off spinner Miraz. However, Mohammad Rizwan (26 not out) and Iftikhar Ahmed (17 not out) calmly steered Pakistan to a victory with 107 balls to spare.

In the earlier innings, Pakistan’s express pace attack, led by Shaheen Shah Afridi, was instrumental in bundling out Bangladesh for a below-par score of 204 runs. Shaheen, who recently returned from a knee injury, bowled with clever variations and swing to finish with figures of 3/23 in nine overs. He became the fastest Pakistani to reach 100 ODI wickets, surpassing Saqlain Mushtaq’s record by a couple of innings.

Despite a brief resistance from Mahmudullah, who scored 56 off 70 balls, and Litton Das, who contributed 45 runs, Bangladesh failed to post a competitive total. Haris Rauf dismissed Mushfiqur Rahim, reducing Bangladesh to 23/3. Mahmudullah’s promotion to No. 5 in the batting order signified Bangladesh’s intent, and he played a crucial role in their recovery.

However, after Shaheen’s spell, Pakistan’s bowling attack faltered, allowing Litton and Mahmudullah to exploit gaps in the field. It was Iftikhar Ahmed who broke the partnership, dismissing Litton. Shaheen’s return to the attack proved pivotal, with a brilliant delivery ending Mahmudullah’s innings.

In the end, Pakistan comfortably secured their seven-wicket victory, keeping their hopes alive for a semi-final spot in the World Cup.

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