11 balls into the second innings is all it took to put to rest any comparisons to Imran Khan’s ‘Cornered Tigers’.
Pakistan’s only chance at qualifying after scoring 315 for nine was to bundle out Bangladesh for an improbable seven runs.
At the iconic Lord’s, it was always going to be a herculean ask for Sarfraz Ahmed’s men, though the toss went their way.
Needing to pull a rabbit out of the hat, Pakistan had to score a minimum of 311 and then dismiss Bangladesh for nought, as inexplicable as that sounds.
In the second over of the chase, Tamim Iqbal flicked one to the square leg fence, driving the final nail in the coffin for Pakistan.
Earlier, Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq walked out with some purpose but immediately looked circumspect while facing off-spinner Mehidy Hasan, who was spot on with his lines and lengths.
Mehidy was well backed by Mohammad Saifuddin, both of whom really restricted Fakhar and the opener eventually made his frustration visible by wildly slashing one to point. His knock of 13 from 31 was especially poor considering what Pakistan required at the start of the game.
Young Imam at the other end was going well and found himself in the company of the consistent Babar Azam as the rebuilding began.
Bangladesh has been one of the more exciting teams this World Cup, displaying fascinating levels of commitment each time they take the field. But in front of a massive audience at Lord’s on Friday, they bungled up on numerous occasions.
Imam and Babar made the most of it taking Pakistan to 166 for one after they had only managed 38 in the first Powerplay.
Babar was in devastating form and looked good for a big knock but it wasn’t to be as Pakistan’s minute hopes faded with his dismissal. Failing to connect a low full toss from Saifuddin, Babar was caught plumb and had to drudgingly make the walk back for 96 off 98.
There on, Imam did switch gears and went on to become Pakistan’s youngest centurion at World Cups (23 years old). Salim Malik held the record after scoring a hundred against Sri Lanka in the 1987 World Cup when he was 24 years old.
Immediately after reaching his ton, Imam was dismissed in bizarre fashion, going too deep in his crease and stepping onto his wicket.
With the need of a late flourish, Pakistan wilted to the wily Mustafizur Rahman (5/75) eventually ending their innings on 315 for nine.
That would have sparked off celebrations in the New Zealand camp but there was still a game at the home of cricket that, despite its inconsequential nature, needed completion.
Bragging rights is all there was at stake and with Bangladesh’s openers enduring a sub-par tournament, all the weight of expectations was once again on Shakib Al Hasan’s shoulders.
Much to the delight of the big Pakistani contingent at the stadium, it was not Shakib but teen sensation Shaheen Shah Afridi that took centre-stage during the chase.
Becoming the youngest to take a five-wicket haul in World Cups, the 19-year-old Shaheen dismantled Bangladesh with figures of six for 35.
Bowling accurate lengths and varying his pace beautifully, Shaheen bamboozled even the best Bangladesh batsmen. His game-changing wicket came in the 33rd over when he had Shakib caught behind.
In the tournament, so far, Shakib has been affective at just using the crease and guiding the ball down to third man for a single. But on this instance, he failed to negotiate Shaheen’s cross-seam delivery that shaped away every-so-slightly and taking an edge en route to Sarfraz’s gloves.
It wasn’t just the tail that he removed either as the lanky left-armer was responsible for the dismissals of Tamim, Shakib, Liton Das and Mahmudullah. The best of the lot being a Mitchell Starc-esque Yorker that castled Mahmudullah.
Shakib once again stood out for the Tigers with a patient half-century (64 off 77) but as has been the case through the tournament, the support cast failed to turn up on the day.
During his innings, Shakib also overtook Rohit Sharma atop the run standings with 606 runs, a sublime individual effort but eventually not enough for Bangladesh.