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Battered Pak eye big win against Canada to keep WC hopes alive

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New York, June 10: Shocked by the USA and scarred by India, Pakistan have little to play for and everything to lose when they meet Canada in their penultimate group league encounter of the T20 World Cup here on Tuesday.
If the Super Over loss against the co-hosts in their opening Group A match was not enough, Pakistan slumped to six-run loss at the hands of arch-rivals India in a low-scoring match here on Sunday.
Pakistan’s Super Eight qualification chance now hinges on winning big against Canada and Ireland, besides hoping that the Americans lose big to India and Ireland.
Even in that scenario, both the teams will end on four points each and it will boil down to which team has a better net run rate. Hence Pakistan can only pray for divine intervention in best case scenario.
USA after two wins enjoy a healthy run-rate of +0.626 and just a victory against Ireland would suffice while Pakistan with a dismal NRR of -0.150 would not only need to win but also by comprehensive margins.
In the two matches so far, the 2009 champions never really looked the formidable side it was once known to be.
There seems to be no clarity in Babar Azam’s leadership. The two factions in the team — one led by the skipper with his close friends Mohammed Rizwan and Shadab Khan while other including, recently sacked Shaheen Shah Afridi is also making matters worse.
Not a single department clicked for Pakistan in the two matches so far and they will need a more cohesive effort in the remaining matches to give themselves an outside chance.
While Babar and Shahdab Khan scored 40 odd runs against USA to post 159 for 7, Pakistan failed to defend the target, losing the match in Super Over.
And then while chasing an underwhelming 120-run target, none of the Pakistani batters could up the ante as they consumed 59 dot balls to be restricted 113 for 7.
Pakistan’s major concern going forward is the underwhelming performance of their batters as the likes of Fakhar Zaman, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan and Iftikhar Ahmed played loose shots to make life difficult for them against India.
While Mohammed Rizwan took 44 balls to score his 31 runs, Wasim consumed 23 balls for his 15.
The only bright sport for Pakistan on Sunday was the performance of their bowlers with Naseem Shah (3/21) and Mohammad Amir (2/23) leading from the front.
But premier fast bowler Shaheen needs to take more responsibility upfront in the remaining two games to give Pakistan an outside chance. He has hardly been able to get swing in conducive conditions.
Going forward Pakistan will have to do some soul searching if they want to revive their faltering campaign.
Canada, on the other hand, are placed third in Group A with one win out of two games.
After the seven-wicket loss to USA, Canada bounced back in style to beat Ireland by 12 runs in their next match.
In Navneet Dhaliwal, Canada have a veteran top-order batter who was a part of that 2019 victory over Ireland, and a lot will be riding on him.
Canada will also take heart from the defeat against the USA because they had posted an imposing 194, albeit in a losing cause. (PTI)

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