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07 December 2023

Shehzad leads Pakistan to morale-boosting win

By Cricket Correspondent and Agencies

Ahmed Shehzad anchored Pakistan's innings and his bowlers then ensured UAE never seriously challenged it as their World Cup hopes continued for another day after a 129-run victory at McLean Park on Wednesday.

Misbah ul-Haq's side had been under immense pressure before the Pool B clash in Napier, having been hammered by India and West Indies in their first two games and then lurching to a 20-run victory over Zimbabwe.

While they were hardly explosive on a wicket that is considered the best batting surface in New Zealand, they did patiently build an innings of 339 for six.

Their bowlers then kept the shackles on UAE, though there was some doubt as to whether they had any real interest in pushing for an unlikely victory as they batted out their 50 overs to finish on a pedestrian 210-8.

Pakistan's towering opening bowler Mohammad Irfan was virtually unplayable for his first three overs in tandem with Sohail Khan, who took two wickets as UAE slumped to 25-3 in the 10th over.

Khurram Khan (43) and Shaiman Anwar (62) combined for an 83-run partnership but they were unable to score quickly enough as the overs ticked away and the game went through the motions.

Anwar has now scored 270 runs during the World Cup with two half centuries and a century.

The victory should reduce some pressure on Pakistan, who had been facing intense criticism from former players and pundits for the manner in which they had played during the tournament.

Shehzad, whose own poor run of form had been symptomatic of a top six that had not been scoring, looked desperately out of touch early in his innings.

He was also dropped twice but managed to somehow push, flick and caress his way to 93 as he and Haris Sohail put on 160 for the second wicket.

Shehzad was run out when his bat bounced up as he dived for the crease while completing a second run off Mohammad Naveed.

The 23-year-old trudged off having been in sight of the first century by a Pakistani at the 2015 World Cup.

Sohail scored 70 runs in the partnership with Shehzad before he fell during the batting power-play, which Pakistan had taken at the 30th over.

Sohaib Maqsood (45) and Misbah ul-Haq (65) then combined for a 75-run partnership as Pakistan increased the tempo with the captain falling in the 49th over, as Manjula Guruge (4-56) took two wickets in two balls.

Pakistan innings

Opener Ahmed Shehzad missed his maiden World Cup century by seven runs as Pakistan piled up 339-6 against the United Arab Emirates in Napier on Wednesday.

Shehzad hit a 105-ball 93 and was ably supported by skipper Misbah-ul Haq who made a 49-ball 65 and Haris Sohail's 83-ball 70 as Pakistan took full advantage of a weak bowling attack on a flat McLean Park pitch.

"I'm really happy to see the way myself and Haris Sohail got through those early overs and laid a foundation for the rest of the innings," said Shehzad.

"We all know the importance of the early partnerships. You see other teams, their top four batsmen are laying a platform for the rest of the innings."

Put into bat by UAE skipper Mohammed Tauqir, an unchanged Pakistan lost out-of-form opener Nasir Jamshed in the fourth over for four, caught off left-arm paceman Manjula Guruge.

Guruge could have had Shehzad in his fourth over but Khurram Khan dropped a sharp chance when the batsman was on eight and three runs later Shehzad got another life off Mohammad Naveed.

Those lapses allowed Shehzad to add 160 runs for the second wicket with Sohail to provide an ideal platform for Misbah and Sohaib Maqsood.

Shehzad hit eight boundaries and a six but ran himself out while taking a sharp single. Sohail clubbed five boundaries and a six.

Maqsood helped Misbah add another rapid 75 for the fourth wicket, hitting four boundaries and two towering sixes during his 31-ball 45.

Misbah reached his 41st ODI half-century off just 39 balls. He hit four boundaries and two sixes before holing out off Guruge.

Shahid Afridi hit two sixes and a four in his seven-ball 21 not out as he became the fourth Pakistan player to pass 8,000 ODI runs.

Guruge was the pick of UAE bowlers with a career best 4-56.

UAE have won the toss and put Pakistan into bat at McLean Park in Napier on Wednesday.



Nasir Jamshed c Khan b Guruge 4
Ahmed Shehzad run out 93
Haris Sohail c Anwar b Naveed 70
Sohaib Maqsood c Mustafa b Guruge 45
Misbah-ul-Haq c Mustafa b Guruge 65
Umar Akmal c Ali b Guruge 19
Shahid Afridi not out 21
Wahab Riaz not out 6
Extras: (lb3, nb1, w12) 16
Total: (for six wkts; 50 overs) 339
Did not bat: Sohail Khan, Mohammad Irfan
Fall of wickets: 1-10 (Jamshed), 2-170 (Sohail), 3-176 (Shehzad), 4-251 (Maqsood), 5-312 (Akmal), 6-312 (Misbah)
Bowling: Naveed 10-0-50-1 (1nb, 1w), Guruge 8-0-56-4 (2w), Javed 9-0-76-0 (2w), Tauqir 10-0-52-0 (1w), Khan 3-0-21-0, Chandran 8-0-58-0, Mustafa 2-0-23-0 (6w)

UAE: Mohammed Tauqir (captain), Khurram Khan, Swapnil Patil, Amjad Javed, Shaiman Anwar, Amjad Ali, Rohan Mustafa, Manjula Guruge, Andri Berenger, Muhammad Naveed, Krishna Karate

Toss: UAE
Umpires: Sundaram Ravi (IND) and Johan Cloete (RSA)
TV umpire: Richard Illingworth (ENG)
Match referee: Chris Broad (ENG)

Ahmed Shehzad, Nasir Jamshed, Haris Sohail, Misbah-ul-Haq, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Wahab Riaz, Sohail Khan, Rahat Ali, Mohammad Irfan

UAE: Amjad Ali, Andri Berenger, Krishna Chandran, Khurram Khan, Shaiman Anwar, Swapnil Patil, Rohan Mustafa, Amjad Javed, Mohammad Naveed, Mohammad Tauqir, Manjula Guruge




Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq hopes his team's exhausting trans-Tasman flight schedule won't undermine their World Cup hopes as they prepare to tackle the amateurs of the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday.

"The next six days are going to be very tough for us with flights and three games but that's how it is," said Misbah.

Pakistan flew to Brisbane from Christchurch last week to play Zimbabwe and then hopped back to New Zealand to play UAE at Napier Park on Wednesday and then South Africa in Auckland on March 7.

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Their pool stage games end in Adelaide against Ireland on March 15.

Misbah said the long gaps between games break the momentum of preparation after Pakistan's opening game against India in Adelaide on February 15 was followed by a meeting with the West Indies in Christchurch six days later.

"You don't get rhythm so it's tough for any team as you have to play in different conditions and weather but you can't change that. We have to put this aside, handle it and this is the only way out.

"These are very important games. We have to travel almost after every game so that could be really challenging but we have to do that."

Misbah said confidence was on the rise after the narrow 20-run win over Zimbabwe, their first in the World Cup on Sunday which gave them two points in three outings.

"Of course a win is always good for confidence and everybody is feeling good and looking forward to tomorrow's game," said Misbah, who admitted the fight for a quarter-final place was tough.

"This pool is open. Anything can happen and every game is important in this pool, all the teams are still interested in making the quarter-finals.

"We are also fighting for the quarter-finals. We have to go out there and improve our performance. We have to do it if we want to go into the next round and perform tomorrow, then against South Africa and then against Ireland (March 15) and if we are unable to perform in one game then we are out of the tournament."

"I think that net run-rate is another question," said Misbah, whose team stands at -1.37 after 76-run and 150-run losses in their first two matches.

"It all depends on how we start, if you have a good start we can capitalise. We couldn't get a good start and struggled to beat Zimbabwe so if we have control over the game on Wednesday then we can push for the net run-rate."

Despite the top order failure Misbah stressed opener Nasir Jamshed, who has a duck and one in the last two games, will keep his place.

"Nasir has played just two innings, not nine or ten so we have to look at it then and decide. Cricket is a game of uncertainties, you get four five poor innings and suddenly you have a hundred.

"Our top order batsmen are capable of that."

Net run-rate

Pakistan will target a huge improvement in batting to boost their net run-rate in the World Cup Pool B match against minnows United Arab Emirates in Napier on Wednesday.

Pakistan's long standing batting woes have continued in the tournament as they lost their opening game against arch-rivals India by 76 runs and went down by a big 150-run margin in their second to the West Indies.

The 1992 champions finally opened their World Cup account with a scrappy 20-run win over Zimbabwe in Brisbane on Sunday and skipper Misbah-ul-Haq warned his team cannot afford any more slip-ups.

"From now on we have to play every game as it is a knock out match," said Misbah whose team also face a tough game against in-form South Africa in Auckland (March 8) and a dangerous Ireland in Adelaide on March 15.

"I think the top order is always the key, and if we really want to go further in this World Cup, we have to improve that," said Misbah of the openers who in the last 10 one-dayers have six single-digit stands, five of them one run or less.

Pakistan tried veteran Younis Khan as opener in the first match but that backfired.

Pakistan were 1-4 against the West Indies at Christchurch in the worst-ever start in all one-day internationals, while they were 4-2 against Zimbabwe with Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad failing on both occasions.

Pakistan struggled to score 235-7 against Zimbabwe, a total Misbah believed will not help against South Africa.

"If we really want to win against South Africa and we really want progress in this World Cup, we have to come up with some performances, if we keep scoring 200 to 230, 235 runs, it could be really difficult for us to win."

Pakistan with two points in three games are likely to fight the West Indies (two wins in four matches) and Ireland for a place in the quarter-finals.

The top four from each of the two pools of seven teams will reach the quarter-finals.

Pakistan will also look to improve their net run-rate which stands at a poor -1.37.

Considering UAE's weakness against spin, highlighted by Ravichandaran Ashwin's 4-25 in India's nine-wicket win on Saturday, Pakistan can bring in leggie Yasir Shah and also Sarfraz Ahmed as opener for Jamshed.

Pakistan have won their two one-day internationals against UAE - both by nine wickets - the first in Sharjah in 1994 and the second at Gujranwala in the 1996 World Cup.

UAE have Pakistan-born middle-order batsman Shaiman Anwar as the only bright spot who has scores of 67, 106 and 35 in his team's three defeats.

But skipper Mohammad Tauqir said the whole tournament is a learning experience for his team.

"Look, we had two good games to start with," said Tauqir of his team's narrow two-wicket loss to Ireland and four-wicket defeat against Zimbabwe.

"We would like to forget about it and erase this game as soon as possible and would like to do well in the next three games and gain experience.

"This whole tournament is a learning experience for us."

Teams and officials:

(from): Misbah-ul-Haq(captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Nasir Jamshed, Sarfraz Ahmed, Younis Khan, Haris Sohail, Umar Akmal, Sohaib Maqsood, Shahid Afridi, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Irfan, Rahat Ali, Ehsan Adil, Sohail Khan, Wahab Riaz

United Arab Emirates (from): Mohammed Tauqir (captain), Khurram Khan, Swapnil Patil, Saqlain Haider, Amjad Javed, Shaiman Anwar, Amjad Ali, Nasir Aziz, Rohan Mustafa, Manjula Guruge, Andri Berenger, Fahad Al Hashmi, Muhammad Naveed, Kamran Shahzad, Krishna Karate

Umpires: Sundaram Ravi (IND) and Johan Cloete (RSA)
Tv umpire: Richard Illingworth (ENG)
Match referee: Chris Broad (ENG)

Weather: Temperature 25 degree maximum, Cloudy and windy

Five match facts:

- Both previous one-day internationals between these teams ended in nine-wicket victories for Pakistan (in 1994 and at the 1996 World Cup).

- Misbah-ul-Haq has 40 scores of 50+ in ODIs, but no centuries. The next highest number of half-centuries without a ton is 25 by New Zealand's Andrew Jones.

- Against Zimbabwe last time out, Misbah became the first player to score two World Cup half-centuries at the age of 40 or more.

- Misbah needs 72 runs to become the 12th player to score 5,000 ODI runs for Pakistan.

- UAE seamer Manjula Guruge (74.4%) has the highest dot ball percentage of any bowler in the tournament - 58 of his 78 deliveries have not been scored off.