In their ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 clash against Australia, Pakistan offered further proof that they suffer a severe case of the Jekyll and Hyde syndrome. It made for a thrilling cricket match.
In various phases within the match at Taunton on Wednesday, 12 June, Pakistan displayed their best as well as their worst. Their worst proved too costly, though, as Australia secured a 41-run victory, bundling out Pakistan for 266 in 45.4 overs.
After opting to bowl, Pakistan didn’t do justice to the conditions, allowing Australia to cash in on some poor bowling early on. Their lengths were too short, and sloppy fielding didn’t help, with Asif Ali guilty of missing two sitters. David Warner scored a century, Aaron Finch an 82, and Australia looked good for a lot more than the 307 they managed.
That Australia were restricted to that score had a lot to do with Mohammad Amir. He returned a fine 5/30 to surge to the top of the tournament wicket-takers' charts. And going into the second innings, there was genuine hope surrounding Pakistan.
However, once again, the inconsistent side of Pakistan resurfaced. Fakhar Zaman didn’t trouble the scorers, Babar Azam looked solid but needlessly holed out, and in light of that, Imam-ul-Haq needed to do more than the 75-ball 53 he managed.
The middle order collapsed, despite some big hits from Mohammad Hafeez (46), and for all the optimism of a sizeable section of the fans, Pakistan looked like they would collapse without a fight.
That was until Sarfaraz Ahmed and Wahad Riaz came together. Something burned inside Riaz – as it has before against Australia in World Cups – as he scored a 39-ball 45, connecting with each of his two fours and three sixes with a delightful bat swing. He added 64 with Ahmed for the eighth wicket, and until the partnership lasted, Pakistan believed.
But it wasn't to be. Mitchell Starc induced the thinnest edge off Riaz, and it didn't take long for the innings to be wrapped up.
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