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Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023

Fakhar blitz keeps Pakistan’s semifinals hope alive

Published : 04 Nov 2023 10:12 PM | Updated : 05 Nov 2023 01:12 PM

Fakhar Zaman and captain Babar Azam starred as Pakistan pulled off a dramatic, rain-hit DLS 21-run victory over New Zealand to stay alive at the Cricket World Cup in Bengaluru on Saturday.

After New Zealand had piled up a mammoth 401-6, Pakistan were 160-1 in the 21st over when rain brought a stoppage. 

Set a revised target of 342 off 41 overs, Fakhar had moved to 126 and Babar was on 66 with their team on 200-1 in the 26th over when the rain returned, this time bringing the game to an end and Pakistan declared the winners as they were ahead of the required rate. 

Pakistan and New Zealand both have eight points and remain in contention for semi-final spots with a match each left to play in the group stage. 

Fakhar was the star of the show in the opening 20 overs of the innings, slamming nine sixes en-route to a century off just 63 balls.

And with Babar content to play second fiddle at the other end, Pakistan's hope grew by the over in Bengaluru. And as rain began to fall in the 22nd over, Pakistan were remarkably ahead on DLS.

A lengthy delay for rain and then a wet outfield saw the overs reduced to 41, with Pakistan's target changed to 342 as a result. And the second-wicket pair picked up where they left off after the relay, rattling along in search of their reduced target.

Pakistan were 21 runs ahead on DLS when the rain returned and became too heavy to continue, and the win moves Babar Azam's side up to eight points, level with New Zealand and right back into the qualification mix.

A brief spell of drizzle had impeded the start of the second innings but the teams eventually got on with the game after New Zealand had laid the foundation for a huge total courtesy of Ravindra's third century in eight innings at the tournament.

The young star, moved up to open as Kane Williamson returned, was brilliant once again, hitting 108 from 94 runs and adding 180 for the second wicket alongside Williamson.

Barring Mohammad Wasim, who finished with 3/60, all other Pakistan bowlers found the going tough in Bengaluru. 

Ravindra went on to make 108 from 94 balls, while captain Kane Williamson (95) also helped put Pakistan on the ropes with a stirring knock after overcoming a thumb injury to return to the side.

Heavy-hitters Daryl Mitchell (29) and Mark Chapman (39) then joined forces to lift the scoring rate even more as New Zealand passed 300 for the loss of only three wickets and with more than 10 overs to spare.

The final push was provided by Glenn Phillips (41) and Mitchell Santner (26*), who ensured that the solid foundation met its late flourish. 

Rising star Ravindra initially combined with fellow opener Devon Conway to compile 66/0 at the end of the Powerplay in the high-stakes clash at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.

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