Match Report – CAN vs PAK 22nd Match, Group A, June 11, 2024

Pakistan 107 for 3 (Rizwan 53*, Babar 33, Heiliger 2-18) lost Canada 106 for 7 (Johnson 52, Amir 2-13, Rauf 2-26) by seven wickets

Last T20 World Cup was good for Pakistan as they produced a strong all-round show to beat Canada by seven wickets in New York and record their first win of the tournament.

Despite Aaron Johnson’s 44-ball 52, the victory was set up by the fast bowlers, who were reduced to 6 for 106 for 7 in 20 overs. And Canada’s total is not small.

Battling in reply, Pakistan stumbled in the powerplay.

They replaced Iftikhar Ahmed with Saim Ayub, and Ayub walked out with Mohammad Rizwan, breaking up the Rizwan-Babar Assam partnership. The result did not pay off as Ayub fell for 6 off 12 balls.

But Babur and Rizwan played on their experience and put on 63 off 62 balls for the second wicket. Babar fell in sight of victory, but Rizwan scored an unbeaten 53 off one ball to give Pakistan victory with 15 balls to spare.

Johnson smashes and Amir hits

Babar won another crucial toss and did not hesitate to field first.

He will be hoping that „first over Shaheen Afridi” will do his magic. But instead, Aaron Johnson set the stage in the first over. He blasted the first ball of the innings, a shin-high full toss, through mid-on for four, before pumping Afridi straight down the ground on the next ball.

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This is the first time in a Men’s T20 World Cup match that the first two balls have been hit for boundaries. Had it not been for the sluggish outfield, the third ball would have gone straight for the boundary.

Johnson then dropped Naseem Shah at backward point.

Only Mohammad Amir got his due reward from his long position. Navneet Thaliwal took him for a boundary on the first ball of point, but Amir took revenge by sending a searing in-dipper that flattened Thaliwal’s middle stump.

Afridi and Naseem soon found their length. And even though Johnson continued to play his shots, there were a lot of plays and misses. And Afridi changed his bowling and bowled Barkat Singh at first slip as Canada reached 30 for 2 in six overs.

Pakistan is soon in control

The most important moment of Canada’s innings came in the seventh over, when Nicholas Kirton, their best batsman so far in the tournament, was run out by Imad Wasim’s direct delivery from the covers.

Johnson continued to play but Canada lost wickets at the other end.

Haris Rauf scored twice in three balls. He picked up his 100th T20I wicket by removing Shreyas Mowwa. Then caught at slip by Ravinderpal Singh – Canada, after their bright start, slipped to 55 for 5 after ten overs.

Johnson hit Wasim twice over the ropes in two overs, the second coming off 39 balls to bring up his sixth T20I half-century. But he failed to continue and fell on 52, Naseem beating his stumps.

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Canada then failed to inject any momentum into their innings as Pakistan conceded just 29 runs off their last five overs with two fours and a six. In total, Canada faced 76 dot balls, the most in an innings at the Men’s T20 World Cup.

Another powerplay struggle for Pakistan

ESPNcricinfo’s predictor has Pakistan winning 93% of the game at the halfway mark. But pitches in New York have often upset the calculations.

Kaleem Sana bowled five wides in the first over, but other than that, Canada were very tight with their lines. Ayub tries his shots before Dillon Heiliger pulls back. Babur, at No. 3, was sent upstairs in a tense moment for being caught behind leg. But replays showed the ball had gone off his pad.

In the sixth over, Rizwan scored just four off the bat in the powerplay. In comparison, Canada had hit five boundaries in their first six overs.

According to ESPNcricinfo’s records, 31 of the 36 deliveries from Canada in the powerplay were of length or short. Pakistani players struggled to deal with them.

Pakistan gets 'W’

Junaid Siddiqui and Saad Bin Zafar kept the Ireland batsmen in a spin in Canada’s previous game, but Babur and Rizwan were having none of it.

Rizwan first swept Saath’s full delivery through deep-backward square leg before Babar hit Junaid for a straight six down the ground. The duo added 31 runs between the six and ten overs and put the chase on the right track.

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They were ticking over the scoreboard before Babar dropped Heiliger behind the stumps. Babur left in disgust. But Rizwan made sure to stay till the end. He reached his 29th T20I fifty off 52 balls. It was a slow performance by a Pakistan batsman, but it was the conditions and the win was crucial.

Pakistan team reached the target in 17.3 overs by Usman Khan. The win didn’t lift their NRR higher than the US, but it wasn’t a bad start as they tried to turn the qualification race in their favor after back-to-back defeats.

Ashish Pant is Associate Editor of ESPNcricinfo

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