Rotterdam: Pakistan joined Afghanistan in third place with 100 points on the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League leaderboard with 16 runs victory over the Netherlands in the first ODI on Tuesday.
A couple more wins this week in Rotterdam will lift Pakistan to 120 points and will assure them of a place in next year’s event proper, irrespective of how their remaining two series against New Zealand and Afghanistan pan out.
Opener Fakhar Zaman scored his seventh ODI century in his 60th appearance, first in 10 matches, to lift Pakistan to an imposing 314 for six after a slow and cautious start that saw them reach 100 for one in 23 overs.
Fast bowlers Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah and Mohammad Wasim Junior then shared seven wickets between them to restrict the hosts for 298-8, despite impressive half-centuries from Vikramjit Singh, Tom Cooper and Scott Edwards.
Singh’s 98-ball 65 included five fours, while Cooper struck six fours and two sixes in a 54-ball 65 as the two batters added 97 runs for the fourth wicket. Singh was lucky to be dropped thrice, including on the very first ball of the Netherlands’ innings as Pakistan’s fielders missed a number of run-out opportunities by failing to hit the stumps.
Edwards showed resistance towards the latter part of the Netherlands’ chase, remaining unbeaten on 71 off 60 balls including six fours and one six with his fighting effort not enough to haul the home side over the line.
Fakhar showed flashes of his brilliance, talent and skills with the willow during a run-a-ball 109 that included 12 scorching fours but only one six. He added 168 runs for the second wicket in an entertaining and exciting second wicket partnership with captain Babar Azam, who was elegant and stylish, as ever, while scoring an 85-ball 74 with six fours and a six.
Following the early departure of Imam-ul-Haq (4), Fakhar and Babar consolidated the innings with watchful batting, before unleashing their wide ranging shots in the second half of the innings as the inexperienced Netherlands bowlers ran for cover.
While Pakistan scored 214 runs in the last 30 overs, including 99 runs in the last 10 overs, only Bas de Leede was able to keep the Pakistan batters in check. He picked up two wickets for 42 runs and though Logan van Beek also scooped two wickets, he went for 89 runs. Vivian Kingma and Tim Pringle also went for over 60 runs each.
Apart from Fakhar and Babar, Shadab Khan joined run-feast when he scored a rapid 28-ball 48 not out with four fours and two sixes. Debutant Salman Ali Agha returned not out on 27 as he added 48 runs for the unbroken seventh wicket in 25 balls with Shadab. Khushdil Shah chipped in with an 18-ball 21.
The second match of the series will be played on Thursday, while the final game of the tour will be on Sunday.
Pakistan: 314-6, 50 overs (Fakhar Zaman 109, Babar Azam 74, Shadab Khan 48 not out, Salman Ali Agha 25 not out, Khushdil Shah 21; Bas de Leeds 2-42, Logan van Beek 2-89)
Netherlands 298-8 (Scott Edwards 71 not out, Vikramjit Singh 65, Tom Cooper 65; Naseem Shah 3-51, Haris Rauf 3-67)
Player of the match: Fakhar Zaman (Pakistan)