Pakistan beat Canada to keep Super Eight hopes alive

Published June 12, 2024
PAKISTAN captain Babar Azam (L) and opener Mohammad Rizwan run between the wickets during the Group ‘A’ match against Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.—AFP
PAKISTAN captain Babar Azam (L) and opener Mohammad Rizwan run between the wickets during the Group ‘A’ match against Canada at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.—AFP

NEW YORK: Moha­mmad Rizwan scored a timely half-century and Babar Azam played a captain’s knock as Pakistan bounced back from successive defeats to beat Canada by seven wickets on Tuesday, keeping their hopes of reaching the T20 World Cup Super Eight stage alive.

Knowing defeat would condemn them to a shock first round exit, Rizwan and Babar put on a match-winning second-wicket partne­­rship of 63 as Pakistan reached their target of 107 with 15 balls to spare.

Opener Rizwan finished undefeated on 53 off 53 balls with two fours and a six for his 29th T20 international half-century while Babar made 33 off as many balls.

The victory came after the 2009 champions and runners-up in 2022 had lost both their first two Group ‘A’ fixtures.

A stunning super-over humiliation at the hands of the United States was followed by a six-run loss to bitter rivals India in a game where they failed to chase down a modest 120-run target.

However, Tuesday’s win at the same Nassau County International Stadium where they came up short against India may still not be enough to secure a place in the second round Super Eights.

Pakistan, third in Group ‘A’ with two points can finish in the top two if Ireland beat hosts United States on Friday and lose to Pakistan on Sunday.

“We needed this win,” said Babar, who explained that Pakistan had been keen to reach their target within 14 overs to overhaul the USA’s better run-rate. “It was in our minds to win before 14 overs but the pitch made it difficult.”

Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Amir, who was named man-of-the-match, added: “That was a much-needed win to be honest. One more win and who knows?”

Canada, also on two points, need a win over India on Saturday to stay in the top-two race.

Aaron Johnson waged a lone battle against Pakistan’s pace attack, hitting his sixth international fifty. Amir (2-13) and Haris Rauf (2-26) led the charge for Pakistan, while Shaheen Afridi (1-21) and Naseem Shah (1-24) helped ensure Pakistan restricted Canada to 106-7.

Johnson demonstrated his attacking intent from the start, cracking successive boundaries off the first two balls he faced from Shaheen.

The Jamaican born 33-year-old opener made 52 off 44 balls with four boundaries and four sixes before he was eventually out in the 14th over with the score on 73-6, clean-bowled by Naseem.

Johnson was the only batsman in the top six to reach double figures as Pakistan’s seamers took wickets on a regular basis.

“They kept picking up wickets but had we scored 130-plus we could have made a game out of it,” said Canada skipper Saad Bin Zafar.

Amir clean-bowled Navneet Dhaliwal (four) with a 141 km/h delivery which sliced through the defences of the opener.

Shaheen recovered from conceding 10 runs off his first over to get rid of Pargat Singh (two) before Nicholas Kirton (one) was run out by a superb throw by Imad Wasim.

Haris sent back Shreyas Movva (two) — for his 100th wicket in the format — and Ravinderpal Singh (nought) in the space of three balls as Canada reached 55-5 after 10 overs.

Once Johnson was out, Canada struggled to press the accelerator and had added just 14 more runs off 20 balls when Saad (10) top-edged Amir to Rizwan behind the stumps.

The temporary arena in East Meadow, where India and South Africa defended less than run-a-ball targets in recent days, looked on course for another competitive low-scoring match as Saim Ayub (6) fell early and Pakistan looked shaky at 21-1 after five overs.

However, Rizwan and Babar steadied the ship, taking few risks and frequently rotating strikes. A measured Babar hit one six and one four before he fell to Dillon Heyliger (2-18), but Pakistan comfortably reached their target.

Scoreboard

CANADA:

A. Johnson b Naseem 52

N. Dhaliwal b Amir 4

P. Singh c Fakhar b Shaheen 2

N. Kirton run out (Imad) 1

S. Movva c Rizwan b Haris 2

R. Singh c Fakhar b Haris 0

S. Zafar c Rizwan b Amir 10

K. Sana not out 13

D. Heyliger not out 9

EXTRAS (B-1, LB-2, W-10) 13

TOTAL (for seven wickets, 20 overs) 106

DID NOT BAT: J. Siddiqui, J. Gordon

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-20 (Dhaliwal), 2-29 (P. Singh), 3-43 (Kirton, 6.6 ov), 4-54 (Movva), 5-54 (R. Singh), 6-73 (Johnson), 7-87 (S. Zafar)

BOWLING: Shaheen 4-0-21-1 (1w), Naseem 4-0-24-1 (1w), Amir 4-0-13-2, Haris 4-0-26-2 (3w), Imad 4-0-19-0 (1w)

PAKISTAN:

Mohammad Rizwan not out 53

Saim Ayub c Movva b Heyliger 6

Babar Azam c Movva b Heyliger 33

Fakhar Zaman c sub b Gordon 4

Usman Khan not out 2

EXTRAS (W-9) 9

TOTAL (for three wickets, 17.3 overs) 107

DID NOT BAT: Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Amir

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-20 (Saim), 2-83 (Babar), 3-104 (Fakhar)

BOWLING: Sana 3-0-21-0 (1w), Gordon 3.3-0-17-1 (1w), Heyliger 4-0-18-2 (1w), S. Zafar 4-0-23-0 (1w), J. Siddiqui 3-0-28-0 (1w)

RESULT: Pakistan won by seven wickets.

PLAYER-OF-THE-MATCH: Mohammad Amir

Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2024

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