Cricket World Cup 2019: Pakistan chase a miracle, Bangladesh aim for Mashrafe Mortaza farewell at Lord’s
Sarfaraz Ahmed: "We're interested in finishing on a high note." © AFP

LONDON: Fact: the Pakistan cricket team needs a miracle at Lord’s on Saturday to enter the semi-finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. Fact: if Bangladesh win the toss and opt to bat, Pakistan are out of reckoning for the final four.

Also a fact: Sarfaraz Ahmed, the Pakistan captain, said that his team will attempt to score 500 and then try to beat Bangladesh by the required runs they have to win by to stay alive. (For reference, the smallest margin they have to target is 308 runs.)

Welcome to match 43 of the World Cup at the spiritual home of cricket, which certainly isn’t being viewed as a dead rubber by either Pakistan or Bangladesh.

How did it get to this? Pakistan have won eight and lost three of their eight matches, and took one point from a washout. Their net run-rate (NRR) is -0.792, worse than the fourth team on the World Cup points table, New Zealand, who have 0.175. England’s win over New Zealand in Durham on Wednesday has left Pakistan needing to beat Bangladesh by a near-impossible margin to boost their NRR by 0.98 to surpass New Zealand and take fourth place.

(READ: How Pakistan can qualify for the World Cup semi-finals)

Mathematically, this mind-boggling situation leaves Sarfaraz and his team-mates and coaching staff in a funk. Sarfaraz, when pressed to answer as to why Pakistan are in this mess of a situation, rightfully singled out the loss to West Indies in their first match when they were dismissed for 105 and were beaten by seven wickets.

Mashrafe Mortaza bangladesh cricket team
Mashrafe Mortaza will play his final World Cup match on Friday. © AFP

Bangladesh’s World Cup ended on Tuesday with that 28-run loss to India in Birmingham, and now seek to leave England with a fourth World Cup win. They have a bit of history on their side, having beaten Pakistan in their last four ODIs. Their coach Steve Rhodes spoke of the determination in the camp on Thursday, and how beating Pakistan would be a good way to exit the tournament, especially for the Bangladesh fans and for the skipper Mashrafe Mortaza, for whom this will be his final World Cup match and, potentially, his last for Bangladesh.

Mortaza does not play Tests of T2oIs and considering that Bangladesh’s next home ODI is not for at least a year, this match at Lord’s could be his farewell.

Did anyone say dead rubber?

Match details

What: Bangladesh vs Pakistan

When: Friday, June 5

Where: Lord’s Cricket Ground

Time: 10:30am local (3:00pm IST)

Team news

Bangladesh

Mushfiqur Rahim was hit on the elbow during training at Lord’s on Thursday, and is in some doubt. For a team carrying niggles since before the World Cup, this still may not be a setback given Bangladesh’s determination to end their campaign with a win.

However, should Mushfiqur be ruled out, Liton Das would keep wickets and Mohammad Mithun could step in.

Mushfiqur Rahim Bangladesh cricket
Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah are in some doubt for this match. © AFP

Mahmudullah attended training too, but did not look 100% fit and is in all probability going to miss this match too.

Rhodes told reporters that Bangladesh had already decided their XI for this match, and that pace bowler Abu Jayed will remain the only member of the squad not to get a match.

Bangladesh likely XI: 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Soumya Sarkar, 3 Shakib Al Hasan, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim/Mohammad Mithun, 5 Liton Das, 6 Mahmudullah, 7 Sabbir Rahman, 8 Mosaddek Hossain, 9 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 10 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), 11 Mustafizur Rahman

Pakistan

No injuries to speak of in the Pakistan camp, but with this being, in all likelihood, the last chance for him to play in a World Cup, could Pakistan bring back Shoaib Malik? That could upset the proverbial apple cart, and given the magnitude of Pakistan’s situation, they will probably field the same team that narrowly beat Afghanistan last week. If Malik does get the nod, it would most likely be at the expense of fellow veteran allrounder – and also final World Cup player – Mohammed Hafeez whose ability to get out to the likes of Aiden Markram, Aaron Finch and Kane Williamson has let down the batting.

Pakistan likely XI: 1 Fakhar Zaman, 2 Imam-ul-Haq, 3 Babar Azam, 4 Mohammed Hafeez, 5 Haris Sohail, 6 Sarfaraz Ahmed (capt/wk), 7 Imad Wasim, 8 Shadab Khan, 9 Wahab Riaz, 10 Mohammad Amir, 11 Shaheen Shah Afridi

Pitch and conditions

The pitch for this match is the same one on which Pakistan beat South Africa, so they know what to expect. A bit of turn, but also runs to be had if you bat first.

Stats

Head to head in ODIs, Pakistan and Bangladesh have played 36 times. Pakistan have won 31 of these matches, Bangladesh five.

Bangladesh have beaten Pakistan in their last four consecutive ODIs.

Mustafizur Rahman needs two wickets to become the sixth Bangladesh bowler to reach 100 in ODIs.

Sarfaraz needs to two dismissals to surpass Younis Khan as Pakistan’s fourth most successful fielder.

Quotes

“Fluctuation in Pakistan cricket isn’t a new thing. It’s been happening forever. We haven’t played good enough cricket, but no team has managed a comeback in this World Cup like Pakistan.” – Sarfaraz

“We’re looking to obviously win. We want to win. We’ve practiced well today. We’ve come up with some good plans. If we can take the scalp of Pakistan in the World Cup, I’ll be very, very proud of the boys.” – Rhodes