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Bangladesh lost after Afridi and Fakhar orchestrate a decisive Pakistani victory

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Bangladesh 204 (Mahmudullah 56, Litton 45, Shakib 43, Afridi 3-23, Wasim 3-31) lost to Pakistan 205 for 3 (Fakhar 81, Shafique 68, Mehidy 3-60) by seven wickets.

Pakistan ended their greatest World Cup losing streak by defeating a miserable Bangladesh by seven wickets and maintaining their slim hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals. They played their most dominant match of the tournament.

Shaheen Shah Afridi, who is currently the fastest player to 100 ODI wickets for quick bowlers and the top wicket-taker in this World Cup, put on a brilliant display to dismiss Bangladesh for 204 runs, setting up the victory. After being just brought back into the team, Fakhar Zaman produced his greatest performance in months with a classic 74-ball 81 that put Pakistan ahead and boost their confidence and net run-rate.

Right from the start, with Afridi taking a wicket in the first over, it felt like a vintage Pakistani effort. In his next over, he took his second wicket by catching Najmul Hossain Shanto at square leg after trapping Tanzid Hasan off the sixth ball to take the score to 100. After being smacked for three boundaries in his opening over, Haris Rauf tied the score with a counterattack that sent Mushfiqur Rahim hurtling in the other direction.

The strongest stretch of play for Bangladesh came next, a 79-run partnership between Litton Das and Mahmudullah that turned the tide of the innings and somewhat repaired the early losses. Usama Mir, Pakistan’s best legspinner, had another poor day and was unable to consistently land his lengths, which helped. He was consistently chastised, especially by Mahmudullah, who appeared to be the most skilled batter.

The game changed when Litton was dismissed with the least amount of severity off a simple delivery by Iftikhar Ahmed, a long hop that the batsman blew up to short midwicket. For almost thirty seconds, Litton stood frozen in shock at the crease, as though his body would not let him go.

Bangladesh recovered, but the game had already lost steam before it even began. After Afridi returned, Shakib Al Hasan took his time getting going and completely destroyed Mahmudullah with an unplayable reverse-swinging delivery from close to the wicket. Bangladesh’s lower-order hitters found themselves at a further disadvantage when reverse swing came into play heavily for the last 15 overs. Babar Azam then used his bowlers with unusual discernment to create pressure as Pakistan started to put pressure on Bangladesh.

Bangladesh didn’t appear to be intending to play the spinners until Shakib made the tardy decision to do so. Babar returned to Rauf’s pace after Iftikhar was dismissed for three boundaries and Mehidy Hasan Miraz got Usama for a six over cow corner. Babar then struck in his first over to remove Shakib. After that, it took Muhammad Wasim only seven balls to clean up the tail, as they folded for 204 with Mehidy, Taskin Ahmed, and Mustafizur Rahman getting their stumps knocked back.

Pakistan’s openers played themselves into a quiet first three overs, but Fakhar in particular was extending his arms. He got rolling after hitting three runs in eleven balls when he hammered Taskin for a massive six over square leg. Later, he would add that he didn’t care how the pitch played since he was confident in his ability to hit sixes anyplace. Throughout his innings, he provided evidence for this claim by frequently hitting sixes to break the dot deliveries. He and Abdullah Shafique discussed their half-century partnership throughout the powerplay, and when Shafique joined the run fest, the stand quickly approached three figures.

Shafique was especially fond of punishing Mustafizur, who in the 12th over was hit for three consecutive boundaries before Mehidy was slapped by Fakhar for another six. Shafique easily reached his own half-century in the same over that he reached his fifth of the innings, a smack off Taskin back over the bowler’s head bringing up the milestone. Pakistan appeared to be heading for a ten-wicket victory when Shafique struck what may have been the shot of the day—a smear over cow corner off Taskin that sailed all the way.

Mehidy contributed to lessening the humiliation by getting three wickets, the only ones Pakistan lost, to stop the bleeding. As Babar, who never really got going, holed out to long-on before he reached double figures, Shafique dropped first and swept past the line. Even though Fakhar had already smashed two sixes off Mehidy, he showed courage by continuing to pitch it up and timing a change in pace to force Mehidy to misjudge one to the midwicket boundary. Fakhar appeared flawless for a hundred, but he had fallen for 81.

In the end, it wouldn’t matter too much because Pakistan easily won the match with almost 17 overs remaining thanks to a barrage of boundaries from Mohammad Rizwan and Iftikhar. It lifted the cloud of doom that had been hanging over the side for the previous two weeks, and although Bangladesh is now officially out of the picture, Pakistan is beginning to emerge from a deep sleep.

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