The last match that matters before the semi-finals, this was primed to be the match that decided the last semi-finalist, then suddenly it only mattered to Pakistan, then it only mattered to Pakistan if they won by 311 runs. Actually, it was 309 runs if Bangladesh got out for 0, 311 runs if Pakistan scored 350, and the margin kept increasing the more that Pakistan scored. Of note, Pakistan’s highest ever ODI score is 399 while the highest ever margin is 280, so there would have to be some records broken to get there.
Pakistan only managed 315 and as soon as Bangladesh scored seven all interest in this match ended. Pakistan won easily, incidentally, by 94 runs, in a very one-sided match, but Pakistan never even tried to use this to try to qualify for the semi-finals. It was a match with no winners.
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Five Things We Learned:
(1) The win that was a loss
Back in the 1999 World Cup, when Australia tied their semi-final against South Africa, I referred to it as “the tie that was a win”, as it qualified Australia for the final by virtue of finishing higher (there were no super overs in that tournament), and this was kind of the opposite. Pakistan won but by such a small margin that they were well and truly knocked out of semi-final contention. Not that 94 runs is a close margin, but considering that they needed to win by 311 it was tiny.
(2) Pakistan didn’t even try
It was the most disappointing effort of the World Cup, worse than Afghanistan’s captain Gulbadin Naib seemingly giving the game away by bowling himself, a pacer, when spinners were winning. Worse than West Indian Carlos Brathwaite going for a six to win when they had a whole over to go and being caught on the boundary. And worse than either David Warner or MS Dhoni going slow against India and England respectively. This was the worst. This was disgraceful. Had they gone at 10 runs per over for the first 20 and been bowled out and lost the match then we’d have understood. To go at just four per over and not even bother to go big at the end was pathetic. Yes, they won, but they should have done so much better.
(3) Deciding qualifiers by net run rate is bad
New Zealand’s five wins were against teams that finished sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth, while Pakistan’s five wins were against teams that finished third, fourth, seventh, eighth and tenth says everything. Add to that the fact that Pakistan won their head to head and we have a significant claim towards net run rate being a bad way to decide who is the better team.
Sure, Pakistan lost to ninth ranked West Indies, but then we get the fact that Pakistan’s washout, against sixth ranked Sri Lanka, they probably would have won, while New Zealand’s washout, against second ranked India, they probably would have lost. Not to mention that New Zealand had a number of close wins, including when Carlos Brathwaite hit the winning six but was caught over the boundary line. If nothing else, had Pakistan made it to the semi-finals they might have made it all the way to win the final, while New Zealand just look like they are making up the numbers. It’s just a problem that doesn’t need to be there.
(4) Shakib al Hasan should win the player of the tournament award
On one of his worst days of the tournament he still scored 64 off 77 and conceded 57 off 10 wicketless overs. That’s his worst day. He’s now top of the run scoring tally while having 11 wickets in 8 matches. Yeah. If he doesn’t win the award then something fishy has gone on. Even David Warner, Rohit Sharma and Mitchell Starc, his 3 main contenders, are a long way behind.
(5) Pakistan should have been in the semi-finals
Had they done a go slow, like India’s MS Dhoni did against England, and Australia’s David Warner did against India, their net run rate now would have been good enough to have made the semi-finals. They really should have been there but they aren’t. It’s quite unfair that they aren’t. There’s no two ways about it. New Zealand won’t have any friends amongst the neutrals that they are there when it should be Pakistan in their place.