Pakistan began their World Cup campaign on a rather distressing note, conceding a 7-wicket loss to West Indies. The fact that the Windies hasn't won another game in the tournament so far reflects on the impact the loss was going to have on Sarfaraz Ahmed's side.
Doing justice to the age-long cliche, Pakistan had an inconsistent tournament since. They defeated host-nation England, but were defeated by India and Australia. Towards the end, they picked up pace, beating South Africa, New Zealand and Afghanistan in three consecutive games. Their campaign drew parallels with Imran Khan's title-winning side of 1992, but the comparisons might as well be coming to an end now.
Thanks to their inconsistency, they needed India and New Zealand to win their games against England to keep their hopes for the qualification in the semifinals alive. As fate would have it, both the sides lost, and Pakistan now face an immensely tricky situation to reach the final four.
Pakistan have a game remaining against Bangladesh, who have been impressive but unfortunate. With 9 points in 8 games, Pakistan can only qualify on a higher Net Run Rate (NRR) than New Zealand, who have played all their games, scoring 11 points. The numbers, however, suggest that the task may not be even realistic.
Here's how Pakistan can qualify:
If Pakistan bats first:
- If Pakistan scores 350 in 50 overs, they will need to bowl Bangladesh out on a maximum of 38 - a winning margin of 312 runs.
- If Pakistan scores 400 in 50 overs, they will need to bowl Bangladesh out on a maximum of 84 - a winning margin of 316 runs.
- If Pakistan scores 450 in 50 overs, they will need to bowl Bangladesh out on a maximum of 129 - a winning margin of 321 runs.
In all the three possibilities, Pakistan will have to register the biggest victory in the history of ODI cricket. New Zealand hold the current record against Ireland, when they defeated them by 290 runs.
If Pakistan bats second:
If Sarfaraz Ahmed loses the toss and Bangladesh decides to bat, New Zealand will qualify for the semifinals without a ball being bowled. The NRR differential margin will be impossible to achieve if Pakistan bats second.
Pakistan have been known for their unpredictability, but this task remains far-fetched even by their standards of shocking the opposition. So, can Pakistan defy the odds on July 5 against Bangladesh?