Pakistan needed something extraordinary to stay alive in the World Cup 2023, and they got exactly that from left-handed opener Fakhar Zaman. In a high-scoring thriller at Bengaluru, Pakistan secured a stunning 21-run win via the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) method, chasing down New Zealand's record 402-run total with Fakhar Zaman's extraordinary century at the forefront.
New Zealand, who suffered their fourth consecutive loss in the tournament, now faces a tough path to qualify for the semifinals. Having won four matches, they have one match remaining, which is now a must-win situation for the Kiwis. Pakistan, on the other hand, has breathed new life into their campaign, securing their fourth victory out of eight matches and moving to the fifth position in the points table.
Rain played a pivotal role in this crucial World Cup clash, as it halted Pakistan's charge when they were comfortably ahead on Duckworth-Lewis's par score by 21 runs. At 200 for one in 25.3 overs while chasing a daunting target of 402, Pakistan faced a revised target of 342 in 41 overs (DLS) after the rain delay. This meant they needed to chase New Zealand's challenging target in 35.2 overs to improve their net run rate and keep their semifinal hopes alive.
Throughout their innings, Pakistan lost just one wicket, that of Abdullah Shafique, while Fakhar Zaman (126 not out) and skipper Babar Azam (66 not out) built an impressive partnership of 194 runs for the second wicket.
Fakhar Zaman's innings was nothing short of spectacular, as he scored a sensational century off just 63 balls, making it Pakistan's fastest century in World Cup history. He displayed aggressive hitting, especially against bowlers like Trent Boult and Glenn Philips, while Babar Azam provided steady support with a brilliant fifty in the run-chase.
Pakistan's initial decision to bowl first did not go as planned, with Rachin Ravindra scoring a century (108 off 94) for the third time in the current World Cup. Ravindra, along with skipper Kane Williamson (95 off 79), formed a formidable 180-run partnership for the second wicket, setting the stage for New Zealand's imposing total of 401 for six.
This high-scoring encounter marked only the second instance in the ongoing tournament where a team scored over 400 runs, with South Africa being the first to achieve this feat. South Africa posted 428 for five against Sri Lanka in their World Cup opener in New Delhi, surpassing Australia's 2015 record.
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