Pakistan eye freak result against Bangladesh for improbable semifinal spot

Their semifinal chances reduced to just a mathematical
possibility, former champions 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 their
hopes of a semifinal spot and when New Zealand went down to the hosts 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 provided
Pakistan win the toss and bat first.

If Pakistan lose the toss and are asked to field, their
miniscule semi-final hopes will be over even before the first ball is bowled at
the Lord’s.

New Zealand finished their engagements at 11 points from
nine matches after their 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 face the challenge of beating Bangladesh by 311 runs after posting 350
or by 316 runs after scoring 400, something which is practically impossible.

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Following their loss to arch-rivals 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 their bowling led by
Mohammad Amir.

Bangladesh, on the other hand, will rue their 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 have been impressive in
their wins against South Africa, Afghanistan and West Indies.

They have 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 have 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 have consistently crossed the
300-mark this World Cup but it is their bowling which has let them down,
especially the lack of form of skipper Mortaza.

Mustafizur Rahman’s variations, which fetched him five wickets,
and Mohammad Saifuddin’s fifty helped them give India a scare in their last
match 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).

-GK

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