Pakistan pulled off the highest-ever successful run chase in Cricket World Cup history to beat Sri Lanka by six wickets in match eight of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad earlier in the week. Beyond the improbable record, the manner of the victory was a welcome shot in the arm for a team that has, for the past month or so, looked to be shorn of it a little.
Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat first, and they posted a formidable total of 344/9 in their 50 overs. Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama scored centuries, while Dasun Shanaka also chipped in with a half-century.
Pakistan's bowlers struggled to contain the Sri Lankan batsmen; Hassan Ali and Haris Rauf were the only ones who picked up more than two wickets. Shaheen Afridi and Shadab Khan also picked up a wicket a piece together with Mohammad Nwaaz. They did manage to take wickets at regular intervals, which prevented Sri Lanka from posting an even bigger total.
In reply, Pakistan managed to shake off early jitters with Abdullah Shafique and Mohammad Rizwan putting on a century partnership. Shafique was eventually dismissed for 113, but Rizwan continued to bat on, and he eventually scored an unbeaten 131 to lead Pakistan to victory.
Rizwan, Saud Shakeel and Iftikhar Ahmed ensured that Pakistan never lost too many wickets in quick succession and built platforms to launch towards the target. Pakistan eventually reached the target of 345 with ten balls to spare to register a memorable victory.
This was Pakistan's second win on the trot in the tournament, and it took them to fourth place in the points table. On the other hand, Sri Lanka suffered their second successive defeat, where one side scored over 300 runs and is now languishing in seventh place.
Among the takeaways for Pakistan are the starring roles and centuries scored by
Mohammad Rizwan and Abdullah Shafique in the record chase.
Rizwan's innings were particularly noteworthy, as he batted through the innings and never gave his wicket away. He struck 11 fours and two sixes in his 121-ball knock. At no point did he appear to have lost control over his innings.
Shafique, on the other hand, played a more aggressive innings. He struck 12 fours and a six in his 103-ball knock. With Rizwan holding down his wicket, Shafique took on the responsibility of keeping the scoreboard ticking at a good pace.
The two batsmen complemented each other perfectly and played a key role in Pakistan's victory.
On the other hand, Pakistan's much-vaunted speed bowling attack appeared to struggle to contain the Sri Lankan batsmen. Their only solace was taking regular wickets, which ultimately prevented the Sri Lankans from posting an even larger total. Hassan Ali brushed off the cobwebs, with successive games helping him regain his stride and confidence. He bowled with good pace and accuracy and was able to trouble the Sri Lankan batsmen throughout his spell.
Other Pakistan bowlers were not as effective, but they did manage to take wickets at regular intervals. Haris Rauf took two, while Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan took a wicket each.
Overall, Pakistan's bowling attack was not at their best, but they did manage to do enough to restrict Sri Lanka.
This victory will provide a massive confidence boost for Pakistan and give them a lot of momentum going into the rest of the tournament. They are a top-seeded side which is unbeaten so far and will be one of the favourites to win the World Cup.