Cricket World Cup 2023: Pakistan recover to avoid shock defeat by Netherlands

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Cricket World Cup 2023: Pakistan seal 81-run win over Netherlands – highlights

ICC Men’s World Cup 2023, Hyderabad

Pakistan 286 (49 overs): Shakeel 68 (52), Rizwan 68 (75); De Leede 4-62

Netherlands 205 (41 overs): De Leede 67 (68); Rauf 3-43

Pakistan overcame a spirited Netherlands to claim an 81-run win in their World Cup opener at Hyderabad.

Pakistan were bowled out for 286 off 49 overs, with both Saud Shakeel and Muhammad Rizwan scoring 68.

The Netherlands reached 120-2 as they started well in their chase, but stalled after losing four wickets for 38 runs in the middle overs.

All-rounder Bas de Leede took 4-62 and hit 67, but his fine efforts were in vain as his side finished 205 all out.

Pakistan had slipped to 38-3 early on, with captain Babar Azam falling for just five, before Shakeel and Rizwan put on a vital stand of 120.

De Leede struck twice in the 32nd over to drag his side back into contention, before claiming two wickets in two balls in the 44th over to break a partnership of 64 between Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz.

Netherlands opener Vikram Singh made a gutsy half-century in reply, but De Leede struggled for support from the middle and lower order as Pakistan’s experienced bowling attack withstood the pressure, led by seamer Haris Rauf’s 3-43, with the Dutch dismissed off 41 overs.

The Netherlands play New Zealand in their next fixture on Monday, while Pakistan face Sri Lanka the following day.

Inconsistent Pakistan get the job done

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Nawaz run out on 39 after comedy of errors

The eventual margin of victory will give Pakistan confidence, particularly considering they were nowhere near their best.

With a reputation for unpredictability, in many ways it was a characteristic performance from Babar’s side.

They fluctuated between the brilliant and bizarre with the bat: Shakeel and Rizwan’s class juxtaposed with Nawaz’s comical run out as he reacted too slowly to Shaheen Afridi attempting a single after a deflection and was dismissed by Colin Ackermann’s direct hit.

Their score of 286, having been bowled out with one over wasted, may not have been enough against a better quality opposition, but with ball in hand, they are always dangerous.

Shaheen’s ferocious death bowling countered his inconsistency with the new ball, Rauf’s raw pace unsettled an inexperienced Dutch middle order and spinners Shadab and Nawaz took a wicket each.

Hassan Ali also marked his return to the side with an impressive 2-33.

The Netherlands can take encouragement from the fact there was not an enormous gulf in skill on display, with Pakistan’s greater experience ultimately telling.

While they avoided a shock here, Pakistan are likely to provide more surprises and thrills in the group stage – they reached the final of last year’s T20 World Cup despite losing their first two games.

De Leede impresses in defeat

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De Leede takes two wickets in an over

It was going to take something extremely special to pull off the highest successful chase against Pakistan in 50-over World Cups.

Yet for a long time De Leede looked like he was capable of leading his side there.

The 23-year-old timed the ball beautifully with sumptuous drives through the covers and bravely took on the short balls of Shaheen and Rauf.

He was calm and composed in a stand of 70 with Singh, before adding more of a flourish when joined by the middle and lower order.

He looked crestfallen when Nawaz ripped one through his defences after a 68-ball stay, but the Durham player has now showcased his talents on the biggest stage.

‘A game that got away’ – reaction

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Azam removed by Ackermann on five

Former IPL batter Abhishek Jhunjhunwala on BBC Test Match Special: “Pakistan had lost their last four matches leading into this tournament, so it was very important for them to get the win and build that self-belief.

“Pakistan are always going to be a dangerous team, especially in the subcontinent.”

Netherlands captain Scott Edwards: “It’s probably a game that got away. We were in a good position to win at 120-2.

“Losing wickets in the middle held us back. Bas de Leede is a quality cricketer and we just needed someone else to go with him.”

Pakistan captain Babar Azam: “I’m pretty satisfied. All credit to the bowlers, the wickets in the middle order really put pressure on them.

“Muhammad Rizwan and Saud Shakeel gave us the partnership to give us momentum. We are very happy.”

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