Rizwan and Shakeel Lead Pakistan to Victory in World Cup Opener against Netherlands

Rizwan and Shakeel’s Identical Half-Centuries

In an exciting start to Pakistan’s ICC World Cup 2023 campaign in a match Pakistan Vs Netherlands (World Cup Opener) at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad, Mohammad Rizwan and Saud Shakeel displayed notable prowess with Rizwan and Shakeel both scoring identical half-centuries. However, Pakistan fans had a sour taste of not witnessing their favorite stars Fakhar Zaman, Imam ul Haq, and Babar Azam getting out cheaply. Had both players got out cheaply, it would have been a lot of trouble for the Pakistan Team to come back in the game.

Bowlers Secure a Convincing Victory

When the first inning was over, it was the bowler’s turn to do their job, which Pakistani bowlers did fantastically. Facing a target of 287, the Netherlands side initially appeared to be on the verge of a stunning upset in Hyderabad. The first wicket fell cheaply around 30, but Vikramjit Singh, an Indian-origin Dutch batter with 52 run, and Bas de Leede with 67 runs exhibited fine form in the opening game and surprised everyone with their batting abilities, raising hopes for the Netherlands.

Despite Netherlands going very well in the middle phase of the game, Babar Azam, the Captain assessed the situation of the game and directed his bowlers to go for wickets early on. As Shadab Khan started bowling, slips were seen behind the stumps, Haris Rauf bowled ferocious 150 kmph bouncers. Pakistan’s relentless bowling attack gradually dismantled the underdog’s resistance, ultimately dismissing them for 205 runs in 41 overs. The final blow was delivered by Haris Rauf with his 3 wickets for only 43 runs, who clean bowled Paul van Meekeren with his stumps cartwheeling.

De Leede’s Bowling Brilliance

It was exciting to see new talent making a name for himself. De Leede made his presence felt earlier in the match by dismissing Pakistan’s batting lineup, securing an impressive 4 wickets for only 62 runs. Colin Ackerman also chipped in with his 2 for 39.

The Netherlands, having won the toss, opted to bowl first. Despite De Leede and Ackerman’s best efforts, Pakistan managed to post a competitive total of 286 runs in 49 overs with every player after 3 down chipped in and securing those gritty 20s and 30s. It was Muhammad Nawaz, on whom the Pakistani team banked in the end to finish the innings but due to a complete misunderstanding between Shaheen Shah Afridi and Muhammad Nawaz, he was run out after scoring 39 runs on 43 balls.

Early Setbacks for Pakistan

After an early setback with Fakhar Zaman dismissed in the fourth over, the Pakistan Cricket Team started their campaign. After Zaman was gone, the crowd started chanting Babar on Indian soil and keeping in view his recent form with his couple of 90s in the warm games.

The pressure escalated as Babar Azam got out cheaply on only five runs. Babar seemed out of form during his brief 18-ball stay on a dry track that offered significant turn and bounce and occasional delay in the pitch. Babar Azam being desperate for runs pulled a delivery to Saqib Zulfiqar at mid-wicket off Ackermann’s first over and got out.

Rizwan and Shakeel’s Resilience

There was still hope when Rizwan and Imam ul Haq were seen scoring singles, doubles, and occasional boundaries. As Pakistan lost Imam ul Haq, a genuine opening batter, Pakistan struggled at 43-3 within the first 10 powerplay overs. Imam-ul-Haq’s dismissal deepened the crisis for Pakistan Cricket Team. However, the partnership of Rizwan scoring 68 runs and Shakeel making 68 runs demonstrated resilience against the Netherlands, forming a crucial fourth-wicket stand of 120 runs, giving stability to Pakistan’s total.

Saud Shakeel scored a quick half Century © Associated Press
Saud Shakeel scored a quick half Century © Associated Press

Read more about: Pakistan’s ICC World Cup 2023 Squad Announcement

The Netherlands Strikes Back

After that fourth wicket 120 runs partnership, it was Netherlands’s turn to turn the tables. Both middle-order batters Rizwan and Shakeel were dismissed, after scoring 68 runs, by paceman De Leede and spinner Aryan Dutt respectively, in the forty-fourth over. The game was significantly poised for the Netherlands to restrict Pakistan to around 240s and this is exactly what De Leede did with his remarkable performance by trapping Shadab Khan (32) lbw on the very next ball.

Pakistan emerged victorious

In the end, Mohammad Nawaz contributed 39 crucial runs but he was unfortunately run out. The last two batters added a very important 29 runs to the total, leaving Pakistan with a fighting score of 287 in 49 overs. Despite initial setbacks, Pakistan secured a hard-fought victory in the World Cup opener against the Netherlands, but it is pertinent to mention that the Netherlands with their talent pool will come up with an upset in the tournament pretty soon. Lastly, Pakistan ultimately emerging victorious against the Netherlands will give the Green Caps a boost of confidence in the upcoming game against India.

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