New Delhi: Pakistan’s dismal run in the World Cup 2023 came to an end with a crushing 93-run defeat against England in their last league match at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Saturday. Chasing a mammoth target of 338, Pakistan was bowled out for 244 in 43.3 overs, despite a late flourish from Haris Rauf and Mohammad Wasim, who added 50 runs for the tenth wicket. Salman Agha was the top scorer for Pakistan with 51, his maiden ODI fifty. For England, David Willey was the star performer with the ball, taking 3 for 40 in 10 overs, including the key wickets of Abdullah Shafiq, Fakhar Zaman, and Salman Agha. Adil Rashid, Moeen Ali, and Gus Atkinson also chipped in with two wickets each.
This was Pakistan’s fifth loss in nine matches, the most they have ever suffered in a single edition of the World Cup. They finished ninth in the points table with six points, ahead of only Afghanistan. Pakistan captain Babar Azam, who scored 38 in his final innings, had to bear the ignominy of leading his team to their worst World Cup campaign. The previous record for the most losses by Pakistan in a World Cup was four, which they had in 1983 and 1999.
England, on the other hand, ended their disappointing campaign on a high note, registering their third win in nine matches. They finished seventh in the table with 12 points, behind Sri Lanka and West Indies on net run rate. England, who were the defending champions, failed to qualify for the semi-finals for the first time since 1992. England’s batting was the highlight of their performance, as they piled up 337 for 9, riding on half-centuries from Ben Stokes (84 off 76 balls), Joe Root (60 off 64 balls) and Jonny Bairstow (59 off 54 balls). Stokes, who was playing his last ODI before retiring from international cricket, missed out on a well-deserved century by 16 runs, as he was bowled by Haris Rauf in the 46th over. Stokes hit seven fours and four sixes in his innings and shared a 113-run stand with Root for the third wicket. Bairstow gave England a flying start, as he put on 88 runs with Jason Roy (32 off 28 balls) for the opening wicket. Bairstow smashed eight fours and two sixes in his knock and reached his fifty in 43 balls.
For Pakistan, Haris Rauf was the most successful bowler, taking 3 for 64 in 10 overs, but he also became the most expensive bowler in a single World Cup, conceding 533 runs in nine matches. He broke the record of New Zealand’s Martin Snedden, who had given away 512 runs in nine matches in the 1987 World Cup. Shaheen Shah Afridi and Mohammad Wasim also took two wickets each, but they were expensive, giving away 75 and 76 runs respectively in their 10 overs.
Pakistan’s chase never got going, as they lost their openers in the first three overs. Willey struck twice, dismissing Abdullah Shafiq for a duck in the first over, and then Fakhar Zaman for one in the third over. Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan tried to rebuild the innings, adding 64 runs for the third wicket, but they fell in quick succession, leaving Pakistan at 86 for 4 in the 18th over. Babar was caught by Roy off Rashid for 38, while Rizwan was stumped by Jos Buttler off Moeen Ali for 36. Saud Shakeel (29 off 38 balls) and Salman Agha (51 off 58 balls) added some stability to the innings, putting on 47 runs for the fifth wicket, but they could not keep up with the required run rate. Shakeel was caught by Stokes off Atkinson in the 29th over, and Agha was caught by Bairstow off Willey in the 37th over, after completing his fifty in 55 balls. Shadab Khan (4 off 8 balls), Shaheen Afridi (25 off 19 balls), and Hasan Ali (0 off 2 balls) also departed soon, leaving Pakistan at 194 for 9 in the 40th over. Haris Rauf (35 off 23 balls) and Mohammad Wasim (16 off 17 balls) delayed the inevitable with some lusty hitting, but it was too little too late. Rauf hit four fours and two sixes in his cameo, while Wasim hit one four and one six. The pair added 50 runs in 21 balls for the last wicket, before Rauf was caught by Roy off Atkinson in the 44th over, bringing an end to Pakistan’s misery.
The World Cup 2023 will now enter the semi-final stage, with India, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand making it to the last four. India, who topped the table with 16 points from eight matches, will face New Zealand, who finished fourth with 14 points, in the first semi-final at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on November 15. Australia, who came second with 18 points from nine matches, will take on South Africa, who were third with 16 points, in the second semi-final at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on November 16. The final will be played at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on November 19. This is the 13th edition of the World Cup, which started in 1975. Australia has won the title five times, the most by any team, while India has won it twice, in 1983 and 2011. New Zealand and South Africa are yet to win the coveted trophy.