LONDON: When Bangladesh took the field against Pakistan at Lord’s on Friday, they were fancying their chances of once again beating their higher-rated opponents, this time at a bigger stage.
Last September, Bangladesh knocked Pakistan out of the contention for the Asia Cup title with an impressive win in Abu Dhabi.
They were brimming with confidence ahead of the Lord’s clash.
The Tigers remained confident even after Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam enabled Pakistan to post 315-9 on a slow, tricky wicket.
But a 19-year-old changed everything as he ripped through Bangladesh’s strong batting line-up to lad Pakistan to an emphatic 94-run triumph.
Shaheen Shah Afridi took 6-35, the best figures by a Pakistani player at a World Cup, to floor Bangladesh in what was the last World Cup match for both teams.
“He (Shaheen) bowled very well, [that] was the difference between the two teams,” said Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza.
Mortaza added that the young pacer bowled with a lot of confidence at the ground.
“He looked really sharp today. He has been bowling fast but he was faster today. His cutter was really working,” said Mortaza, who finished the World Cup with just two wickets.
Bangladesh were unable to make it to the last four despite a stunning performance in the tournament from their premier all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan.
Hasan's 64 against Pakistan was a record-equaling seventh 50+ score in eight matches in a World Cup. He finished the tournament with 606 runs at an average of 86, becoming the third player to hit this milestone, after Sachin Tendulkar and Matthew Hayden. He also took 11 wickets in the event.
Mashrafe agreed that it was unfortunate that Shakib’s efforts went in vain.
“I think he's been absolutely beautiful. He batted at three, he did the best he could do. I really feel sorry for him, not just the whole team,” he said.
“The way he played, this team could have been in a different zone than where we're standing right now.
“I think he's produced one of the best performances of all time in the World Cup." he added.
“We couldn't make the semis or the zone that we'd love to. But Shakib knew what his role was in this tournament and what his job is, going forward [in the tournament]. Hopefully the boys will step up with him next time."
“I think batting is a positive to take from the tournament, it will help us in the future to understand that we can now score 300 or sometimes more, and that we can chase it down,” he explained.
Mortaza also praised his players over their World Cup performance.
“There are a few areas where we can improve a lot and show we’re capable, but on the other hand, we need a bit of luck to go our way.
“I think the players have tried their best. We knew our weaknesses but we couldn’t improve them as we wanted to, so the whole team is disappointed.
“Our bowling has not been up to the mark, starting from me and obviously others, especially in the first 10, 15 or 20 overs, where we needed to pick up wickets.
“In some matches the fielding cost us. As a bowler, when you stop runs on good wickets, the bowlers get a boost which has not been happening. Teams have been making partnerships and we get down and down,” he said.
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