PSL 2019

Pakistan aim to go out firing on all cylinders

LONDON: Pakistan will go all out in their final World Cup league-round fixture with Bangladesh on Friday despite facing a near impossible task to qualify for the semi-finals, skipper Sarfraz Ahmed said on the eve of the match at Lord’s.

Pakistan, fifth in the standings behind New Zealand who occupy the fourth and final knockout berth, have to bat first against the already-eliminated Bangladesh and win by a margin of at least 316 runs to leapfrog the Kiwis on net run rate.

“It is very difficult, 316 runs is a big margin. Only if you’re batting first, if you score 600 runs or 500 runs,” the skipper told reporters. “I don’t know what the study is behind this, but I can’t do anything… definitely, we’re interested in finishing on a high note. So we will try our best in tomorrow’s match.”

Pakistan will also be playing for pride, having been beaten by their South Asian rivals in the last four meetings going back to 2015.

“If you talk about the previous matches, yes, Pakistan lost four, but it is a World Cup match. Both teams look stronger, so hopefully we will do well as a team,” Sarfraz added.

Pakistan’s highest total at the tournament is the 348-8 they made in their shock win over England. The host nation’s 397-6 against Afghanistan is the best of the World Cup so far.

Sarfraz said it had been tough to post big totals on the pitches being used in the competition.

“If you look at the tournament then, realistically, the tournament is of 280-300 totals,” said Sarfraz. “If you look at the pitches, they were not for free-scoring. They were tough for batting with spin and the ball was not coming onto the bat.”

Pakistan were shot out for a paltry 105 in their first match, with the West Indies winning in just 13.4 overs, meaning they took a huge hit on run rate.

Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes, meanwhile, said the pressure will be definitely on Pakistan.

“We’ve got the pressure of 170 million back home wanting us to win but Pakistan can still qualify and, maybe, the pressure is all on Pakistan going into this game,” Rhodes told reporters. “Both teams are desperate to beat each other. We certainly are. They’ve got a lot to play for as well.”

Rhodes, whose team has won their past four One-day Internationals against Pakis­tan, said a win in their final match would make it a good tournament for his side.

“Bangladesh versus Pakistan at the beautiful Lord’s, there’s no such thing as a dead rubber. Both teams are desperate to beat each other. We certainly are,” he said.

“If we beat Pakistan, I think we’ve had a very good World Cup, even though we’ve not qualified,” said the former England Test player. “And I say that because the other teams, some of the big teams that we’ve played against, we’ve had close games against them.

“We pushed Australia. We pushed India. Generally, the games we’ve played, we’ve been in the contest, and we’ve showed a lot of fight. We carry on doing that, then we’re going to improve and improve.

“We would have loved to have qualified for the latter stages, that’s a disappointment. But the victories have been very good, certainly, the early ones against South Africa, and West Indies.”

Bangladesh scored 322 to beat the West Indies by seven wickets — the highest successful chase of the tournament.

Rhodes played down the hype around the last World Cup match for skipper Mashrafe Mortaza.

“The one thing about Mashrafe with the players is that they respect him incredibly,” said Rhodes of Mashrafe, who has announced this will be his last World Cup.

“Hopefully, the boys will give him the right sort of respect playing his last game in the World Cup but then most importantly we’ll concentrate on the match.

“I often use the word warrior, but he [Mashrafe] goes to war for the team and people respect that, understand that, and they love him because of that.

“The players in the dressing room do love Mash. He has said it’s his last World Cup and it’ll be emotional for him.”