England joined the party after everything was done and dusted, finding enough reasons to smile while humiliating a demotivated Pakistan by 93 runs in their final World Cup game in Kolkata on Saturday. By virtue of winning their last two games, England finished seventh in the 10-team table and qualified for the Champions Trophy, scheduled in Pakistan in 2025. Pakistan’s improbable hopes of a semi-final qualification were dashed the moment England batted first and scored 337 for nine in 50 overs.
Pakistan, in response, managed only 244 runs in 43.3 overs as their batters were neither able to pick Adil Rashid’s (2/55 in 10 overs) googlies nor retiring David Willey’s (3/56 in 10 overs) incisive swinging deliveries.
There was no chance in hell of Pakistan making the cut because even if their batters had hit 40 consecutive sixes in 6.4 overs, they wouldn’t have surpassed England’s total and topple New Zealand on net run rate.
The academic interest was whether Pakistan batting was able to withstand the pressure of scoreboard and once again Babar Azam’s men batted in an archaic manner, as if the 50-over showpiece was being held in 1992 and not in 2023.
Once again Babar (38 off 45 balls) and Mohammed Rizwan (36 off 51 balls), the two pillars of Pakistani batting, struggled to get going and let the game drift during their 51-run stand in 11.2 overs.
Batting second at Eden Gardens has been tricky as the ball swung around and also with a lot of balls gripping off the surface, there was turn on offer. The two seniors didn’t have the game to put the opposition under pressure and that has been Pakistan’s story throughout the tournament.
In every 10-over blocks, Pakistan scored 43 (1-10), 46 (11-20) and 54 (21-30), which was never going to be okay in a chase of near 340.
They have failed to show intent save a couple of games against Bangladesh and New Zealand (DLS win), where Fakhar Zaman fired after being picked too late into the tournament.
On the day, purposeful batting by Salman Ali Agha (51 off 45 balls) or tail-ender Haris Rauf’s (35 off 23 balls) rearguard action was a lesson for the top-order.
Earlier, England’s star-studded batting line-up saved their best for the last as half-centuries by Ben Stokes, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow powered the 2019 champions to a commendable total.
Premier all-rounder Stokes, who missed their first three matches owing to a hip injury, headlined their batting show in a 76-ball 84. Bairstow (59 off 61 balls) and Root (60 off 72 balls) also made handsome contributions to bolster the total.
Having scored 339/9 against the Netherlands in their last match, this was England’s second successive 300-plus total.
England batters however failed to fire at the death as, from being 240/2 in 40 overs, they managed 97 runs in the last 10 overs, a period when they also lost seven wickets.
Haris Rauf returned with 3/64, while Shaheen Shah Afridi bagged 2/72 and denied Stokes a well-deserved century by cleaning up the left-hander with a reverse-swinging delivery that tailed in.
Meanwhile, Rauf also became the first Asian bowler to earn the ignominy of giving away 500 runs in the tournament.
The 32-year-old Stokes, who came out of ODI retirement to take part in England’s title defence, smashed two sixes and 11 fours while playing full-blooded reverse sweeps and mighty pulls.
Since his return, he has made his impact felt with three back-to-back 50-plus scores which also included a century, as he signed off the World Cup with 304 runs at 50.66.
Premier batter Root has been the weak link so far in the World Cup, but Stokes’ fury also rubbed on him as he ended up with a fifty-plus knock.
The duo consolidated after a quick start in a 132-run partnership that came off just 131 balls.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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