Pakistan achieves highest-ever World Cup target

Records were shattered in Hyderabad as Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka by six wickets in their second game. Pakistan managed to mow down 345 to record the biggest successful run chase in World Cup history, thanks to contributions from Abdullah Shafique and Mohammad Rizwan, who outperformed earlier efforts from Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama. Four centuries were scored in the same game for the first time in World Cup history.

Pakistan got off to a bad start in the chase, with Imam-ul-Haq adding to his team’s difficulties at the top of the order. To excite the audience, Babar Azam flicked his opening ball for a boundary, but he was out for just ten after he too didn’t stay long. With just 48 runs scored by the end of the powerplay, Pakistan was happy to rebuild the innings following the two wickets.

However, Pakistan’s low-risk strategy increased the asking rate. Despite the pressure, neither Shafique nor Rizwan gave up and continued rotating the strike till the strange barrier was reached. The two batsmen chose to pick up speed as Pakistan required 207 from 150 balls at the midway stage. In particular, Matheesha Pathirana had a bad innings and was struck for two boundaries by both batsmen before the opener raced into the nineties by hitting Dunith Wellalage for a four and a six. Pakistan’s run rate therefore exceeded six for the first time throughout the chase.

Pakistan gained the upper hand with to a 19-run over from Dilshan Madushanka in which Shafique reached his century. However, the opener’s stay was cut short by an incredible catch at backward point. It was the Rizwan show from that point on. Rizwan repeatedly faced difficulty staying upright due to cramping, but he persisted. Pakistan took charge of the chase thanks to a crucial stand made by Saud Shakeel. Although the left-hander left for 30, Rizwan stayed right up to the very end to work with Iftikhar Ahmed to do the job and pound a unique tonne for Pakistan.

In stark contrast to Pakistan’s earlier in the day, Sri Lanka’s innings got off to a fantastic start. Although Kusal Perera was lost for a duck, Mendis and Pathum Nissanka ignited Sri Lanka with a barrage of boundaries. When batting at number eighteen, Mendis was given a huge respite, and he took full use of it. Before Shadab Khan gave his team an early breakthrough by dismissing Nissanka, both Mendis and the latter reached their respective fifties in the same over.

However, Mendis and Samarawickrama carried on having fun to make sure the momentum wasn’t lost, thus Sri Lanka was not deterred by the wicket. Mendis relished the Pakistani assault, with Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf unable to stem the flow of runs as the barrage of boundaries persisted. With 181 after 25 overs, Sri Lanka was on track to surpass 350 at the halfway point.

Mendis then proceeded to punish Hasan Ali further by hitting him for a six, culminating in an incredible 65-ball century. Before attempting to hit a third consecutive six, he finally found the fielder close to the boundary after hitting two more sixes at the same bowler. While Samarawickrama seized command and continued on the opposite end, Pakistan swiftly withdrew Charith Asalanka to storm back. Following 41 overs, Sri Lanka was comfortably positioned at 294/4, and a total of 375 looked certain from that point on.

Pakistan continued to strike, though, at regular intervals after the killing. With Dhananjaya de Silva’s wicket, Nawaz made his debut, and Afridi was able to get rid of Dasun Shanaka, the captain. For the first time in his ODI career, Samarawickrama reached three figures at the other end of the bat, but his departure with two overs left marked a turning point as Pakistan gave up just nine runs off those twelve balls. Eventually, it made a difference, that last-ditch effort when they allowed Sri Lanka to score just 50 runs from the last nine overs.

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