Kolkata November 11 2023: Pakistan have to thump the already-eliminated England to boost their net run rate by enough to leapfrog New Zealand into the critical fourth place at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.
However, after England winning the toss and elected to bat first that seems nearly impossible. Pakistan to chase a total of more than 200 in just under five overs and 300 in 6.1 overs to qualify for the semi final.
Date and venue
Saturday 11 November, Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Pakistan have it all to play for as they meet England needing to win by a significant margin to not only match New Zealand on 10 points but also overtake their net run rate.
The equation was simple for Pakistan but that doesn’t make it any easier - bat first and win by 287 runs or more, to snatch fourth place and set up a mouth-watering semi-final clash with arch-rivals India.
Pakistan can hold onto some hope of the unlikely result if their top order can pick up where they left off against New Zealand, when Fakhar Zaman (126*) and Babar Azam (66*) propelled them to 200/1 from only 25.3 overs.
That was enough for Pakistan to clinch victory over New Zealand by 21 runs under the DLS method even while chasing 402, and set up a crunch clash against England with their slim semi-final hopes on the line.
While Pakistan have lofty goals, England enter the encounter with their own motivations for the future as they look to secure a spot in the next ICC Champions Trophy.
Pakistan are set to host that 50-over event in 2025 which will feature the top eight sides on the standings at the end of this Cricket World Cup.
England are currently in seventh place and can't move any higher, but with Bangladesh and Netherlands also having one match to play a third win of the tournament will at least ensure their qualification.
England squad: Jos Buttler (c), Moeen Ali, Gus Atkinson, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes, Brydon Carse, David Willey, Mark Wood, Chris Woakes.
Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Abdullah Shafique, Mohammad Rizwan, Saud Shakeel, Iftikhar Ahmed, Salman Ali Agha, Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Wasim.
England - Dawid Malan
The opener has been a shining light in England’s dismal title defence to be among the top-10 run-scorers at the tournament despite having little support.
Malan has amassed 373 runs from eight innings, with a blazing century against Bangladesh backed up by fifties in his two most recent knocks against Australia and Netherlands.
England’s next best with the willow have been Ben Stokes (220) and Joe Root (216), but if they are to secure an ICC Champions Trophy spot the 36-year-old Malan might have to step up once again.
Pakistan - Fakhar Zaman
The hard-hitting opener has made such a significant impact since returning to the playing XI that it is hard not to think that Pakistan’s campaign would be set to continue into next week if he earned selection throughout.
Fakhar only made 12 against Netherlands in Pakistan’s tournament opener to fall out of the side, but has made his mark with back-to-back Player of the Match performances since being recalled.
The 33-year-old smashed a quickfire 81 against Bangladesh that breathed life into Pakistan’s semi-final hopes, then pummelled the New Zealand attack for 126* from 81 balls in their rain-affected clash.
Pakistan will likely need at least one all-time great innings to win by enough to overtake New Zealand’s net run rate, but if they are to stand any chance then Fakhar looms as their key weapon with a bat in his hand.