JULY 5, 2019
Brief Scorecard: Pakistan 315 for 9 (Imam 100, Babar 96, Mustafizur 5-75) beat Bangladesh 221 (Shakib 64, Shaheen Afridi 6-35) by 94 runs
LONDON, ENGLAND – In the end it came with neither a whimper nor a roar, but with a flicked single behind square by Tamim Iqbal off a shortish ball from Mohammad Amir.
Batting first, Pakistan had made 315 at Lord’s. At which point the ICC version of Skynet ran the numbers through its circuits and decreed that they needed to bowl Bangladesh out for seven runs or fewer to qualify for the semi-finals of the World Cup.
Defending seven to stay in the tournament Pakistan still managed to cram in a misfield and a dropped slip catch before Tamim dealt the death blow in the second over of Bangladesh’s response. And so that was that. Just past the halfway point on a mild, boisterous day at Lord’s the live group stages of this World Cup were effectively over.
Pakistan had already survived the opening hazard before the start of play as Sarfaraz Ahmed won the toss and decided to bat. Losing the toss and bowling – or in a moment of glorious self-immolation winning the toss and choosing to bowl – would have put Pakistan out before the game began.
Instead they were required to score at least 400 to have any chance of overhauling New Zealand on net run rate. They set their sights on simply winning the game, with a target built around an urgent partnership between Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam and some late hitting from Imad Wasim.
Fakhar Zaman departed early. The partnership of 157 between Imam and Babar arrived off 149 balls, set to a relentless buzz around those austere three-quarter full stands – the only exception the pavilion which remained a sea of white.
Babar went for delicately assertive 96. Imam’s hundred came up off 99 balls, at which point he kissed the Lord’s turf before treading on his stumps, his second such dismissal at this tournament. For Bangladesh Mustafizur Rahman sent down his array of wrist-snapping variations to end with five for 75.
In reply Tamim was deceived early on by a wonderful cutter from Shaheen Afridi. Shakib Al Hasan continued his high summer form, gliding to 64 before Shaheen picked up the key wicket. Shakib’s lowest score of the World Cup remains his 41 at Edgbaston against Australia. From 154 for five at that stage Bangladesh unravelled steadily towards a 94-run defeat.
Beyond that Lord’s was a noisy, fun place throughout the day. The challenge for the home of cricket, and indeed every ground in England, will be to tempt this domestic crowd back in through the doors once the touring teams have gone.