World Cup 2019: Beware of the Cornered Tiger
"A tiger is at it's most dangerous when it is cornered." These words by former Pakistan captain, Imran Khan, still bear fruit today as Pakistan once again came back from the dead to beat the host nation in the 6th game of the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
After losing 12 ODI matches in a row, Pakistan turned things around in sublime fashion against tournament favourites England, winning a thrilling encounter by 14 runs. Pakistan came into this game after an embarrassing loss against the West Indies, where they were dismissed for 105 and lost the match by seven wickets.
Today though, Pakistan's alter ego showed up, and you could see from the outset that they were up for the game with their openers laying a robust platform.
Babar Azam continued his rich vein of form with a 66-ball 63 and he allowed the likes of Mohammed Hafeez to bat fluently around him and build a solid partnership. Hafeez capitalized on the lifeline he was given by Jason Roy who dropped a sitter at long off to the dismay of the Englishmen.
Hafeez was timing the ball beautifully and finding the boundary with ease, making sure that he maintained a healthy strike rate throughout his innings. Sarfraz's 44-ball 55 helped push Pakistan to 348 which would have boosted their confidence tremendously especially after last game's disaster.
England's fielding was substandard today and that was the difference between winning and losing.
Pakistan, on the other hand, fielded pretty well and their bowling was impressive with the fast bowlers bowling back of a length and making it difficult for the English batsmen to free their arms. The spinners did their job in the middle overs with Shadab, Hafeez and Malik all contributing with wickets.
A fantastic partnership by Buttler and Root, who both put on magnificent centuries, gave Pakistan a scare as the pair counter-attacked and got England back into the game. Root was brilliant at rotating the strike and found the boundary whenever he needed to with some elegant shots.
Buttler was at his flamboyant best, manipulating the field to perfection and finding the boundary with his wide range of shots. Unfortunately for England, they both lost their wickets at crucial stages of the game which allowed Pakistan to close off the game.
Wahab Riaz's last spell of the match sealed the deal for Pakistan as he picked up two wickets in two balls, making it impossible for England to reach the target.
This is what you get with Pakistan, one day it is atrocious cricket and the other day it will be cricket of the highest quality. It was a fabulous all-round performance from the men in green and from now on they will want to be more consistent in their performances, the talent was never in doubt.
For England, it is a good wake up call, better to lose now then in a knockout game. They still have a world class team and that showed when they were struggling at 118-4 and they managed to fight back and take the game till the end.
The fielding was the biggest worry, if they held on to their catches and stopped a few boundaries, the result would have probably been different. There is still a long way to go in the tournament and this English team will be back and raring to go in the next match.
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