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Lifeline for Pakistan

June 11, 2024

EAST MEADOW, New York, CMC – Pakistan preserved their slender hopes of reaching the Super Eight stage of the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup after wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan led a successful run chase with an unbeaten half-century in a seven-wicket win against Canada on Tuesday.

Rizwan was unbeaten on 53 from 44 balls that included two fours and one six, and the Pakistanis chipped away at a modest target of 107 in another low-scoring contest at the Nassau County Stadium in the United States.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam made 33 and shared 63 for the second wicket with Rizwan and enabled his side to rebound from successive defeats in their first two matches against group leaders India and co-hosts United States.

Usman Khan formalised the result with 15 balls remaining when he worked a delivery from Guyana-born pacer Jeremy Gordon through mid-wicket for two to rapturous applause from a crowd of 16 328 of mostly Pakistani supporters.

The result meant that both Pakistan, now third on two points, and Canada, now fourth on the same points, require either India or United States, or both, to lose their two remaining matches, and they beat Ireland on Sunday and the Indians on Saturday respectively, in a desperate attempt to qualify for the next round, which features the top two from each of the four first round groups.

Earlier, opener Aaron Johnson defied the notoriously untrustworthy pitch at the makeshift venue and disciplined Pakistan bowling to hit the top score of 52 from 44 balls that included four fours and four sixes to anchor Canada to 106 for seven after they were put in to bat.

Left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir used the conditions to his benefit and ended with a miserly two for 13 from his allotted four overs to earn the Player-of-the-Match award, and fellow pacer Haris Rauf supported with two for 26 from his four overs.

“Winning is so important,” Rauf said. “You have to set a tone in any tournament. We won this match, and our focus is now on our remaining game. Hopefully, we win the next match – and then God willing, we will qualify, and we will play good cricket in the future.

“You make mistakes and see those mistakes and then obviously we try to reduce the mistakes that we have made. We have (good) T20 players, and we believe in ourselves. We will try to play good cricket in the future.”

Canada limped to 30 for two at the end of the Power Play, and they knew they were going to face a tough battle after they were reeling on 55 for five at the halfway stage of the innings, and no batsman other than Johnson could get to 20 or more.

“I think it’s my best innings so far in international cricket,” Johnson said. “And growing up, you know that Pakistan, one thing they have is a quality fast bowling attack, right? To be able to get a decent total on the board for my team, I think that’s up there with the top, probably top two best innings for me.”

Johnson was involved in a mix-up with Nicholas Kirton, the most prolific batsman for Canada in the tournament, that led to the run out of the lanky left-hander for one in the seventh over, and he felt it was a turning point in the match.

“We were under pressure, and unfortunately for us, the run out, the mix-up between me and Kirton cost us,” Johnson said. “That was a crucial moment for us, and I think that’s where they really got back in the game.”

Group A continues on Wednesday when group leaders India and United States face off at the same venue.

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