Close on the heels of their labored 20-run victory over Zimbabwe, Pakistan flew out of Brisbane to meet UAE at far away Napier for the 25th match of the 2015 ICC cricket World Cup. Mohammad Tauqir won the toss for UAE and asked Pakistan to bat first. Tauqir might have been pleased, when early in Pakistan’s innings Nashir Jamshed fell. But to UAE’s dismay all successive batsmen propped up Pakistan’s innings as the total went past 300. It was the first 300+ score from Pakistan in a World Cup, where 300 has become a routine. Later the same day, Australia massacred Afghani bowling at Perth and posted this World Cup’s highest total in ending their innings at 417/6. But Pakistan’s 339 proved too high for UAE in the end. With their second successive victory in the space of three days, Pakistan can now hope for the berth in the quarterfinals. With Ireland losing heavily against South Africa, Pakistan’s chances are vastly improved even if the final decision rested on the net-run-rate. From their point of view, the major batsmen returning to good form was an encouraging sign. Especially the innings from skipper Misbah was in sharp contrast to his dour display against Zimbabwe and the 49-ball 65 that the captain put up, was more like the Misbah innings we have seen in the past. Chasing a 340-run target was never going to be easy for UAE but there are two batsmen in the UAE side who never get out without mounting a sizeable score. Saimam Anwar and Khurran Khan came up with good scores yet again and they were assisted by Swapnil Patil and Amzad Javed. Regardless, UAE fell short by 129 runs to yield a morale boosting victory for Pakistan.
Sent into bat first, Pakistan lost Nasir Jamshed in the fourth over. This was on the third occasion out of four this World Cup that Nasir disappointed. He went for a huge pull over midwicket off a short delivery from Manjula Guruge and ended up holing out to Khurran Khan. Afterwards however, Pakistan settled into a rhythm with the second wicket stand between Ahmed Shehzad and Haris Sohail adding 160 in good time. Shehzad made 93 off 105 balls while Sohail scored 70 off 83. Though these two fell in quick succession, Misbah-Ul-Haq and Sohaib Maqsood picked up the baton from there. Playing typically aggressive cricket, Misbah and Maqsood scored better than run-a-ball. Misbah’s 65 off 49 balls had 4 fours and 2 sixes, which was the same for Maqsood in his 31-ball 45. Though Maqsood got out in the 43rd over, Misbah found support from Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi. The skipper was the last wicket to fall in the Pakistan innings that finally reached 339/6. Afridi made 21 off 7 and even last man Wahab Riaz clobbered a six off the only ball he faced. Of the six wickets that fell in Pakistan’s innings, 4 were taken by Manjule Guruge while there was one run-out.
The chase of 340 for UAE was slow as Pakistan bowlers kept the batsmen on a tight leash. They could only make 19 in the 7th over, when Amjad Ali was bowled by Rahat Ali. Then in the next over, Andri Berenger also fell at the same score, which soon became 25/3. but here onwards, Shaimam Anwar and Khurram Khan took charge and carried the score to 108/4 by the 30th over, when Khurram Khan lost his wicket. Shaimam Anwar also departed in the 39th over after putting on 62 off 88 balls. Khurram Khan had made 43 in 54 balls earlier, but the departure of these pillars of UAE batting, hastened the end. Although Swapnil Patil and Amzad Javed made useful contributions UAE ended up at 210/8 after 50 overs. The inexperience of UAE was in full display and despite their heroics in some earlier matches of the CWC 2015; the desert nation couldn’t match the might of Pakistan and yielded a 129 run victory.
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