Paarl (South Africa): Pakistan kept its World Cup hopes alive with a 97-run victory against minnows Holland on Tuesday, but still had much to worry about in its batting department ahead of their next match against India.
The Pakistani batting line-up failed to bloom against a disciplined Holland attack and struggled to post a total of 253 for nine after being asked to take first strike. Though Wasim Akram, who claimed an unprecedented 500th wicket, and company skittled out Holland for 156 in 39.3 overs, the lack of form of some of the mainline batsmen, including top-gun Inzamam-ul Haq, would give Pakistan sleepless nights as it goes into the high-voltage game against India at Centurion on Saturday.
Tuesday's victory took Pakistan's tally to eight points from four games but it still needs to win its two remaining matches against India and Zimbabwe to entertain any hopes of qualifying for the Super Six. Pakistan left out the flamboyant Shahid Afridi in favour of Saleem Elahi but it was Umer who opened the innings. Umer and Anwar put on 61 runs for the opening wicket before Anwar gave a catch to Jacob-Jan Esmeijer at point in the 14th over. Umer, who had just begun to look settled, ran himself out while going for a non- existent single and in the next over Inzamam was trapped leg before wicket by Tim de Leede to leave Pakistan at 108 for three in the 24th over. De Leede claimed one more wicket to take his tournament tally to nine.
Youhana held the innings together with his steady knock even though wickets fell at regular intervals from the other side. Elahi hit a juicy full toss from leg spinner van Bunge straight into the hands of Bas Zuiderent at covers after making five runs, while veteran Rashid Latif paid the price of attempting an ambitious shot off Edgar Schiferli, holing out to van Bunge after scoring 24 off 25 balls. After Akram was run out for one, Shoaib was promoted in the order considering his breathtaking 16-ball 43 against England in the previous match. Shoaib did not fail his team and came up with another useful knock.
Youhana raised his 24th One-day half-century before being clean bowled by Holland captain Roland Lefebvre in the 48th over. Youhana was rewarded with the man-of-the- match award for his effort. Yousuf Youhana was the top-scorer in Pakistan's innings, making a near run-a-ball 58 while opener Taufeeq Umer and Abdur Razzaq contributed 48 and 47 runs respectively. However, none of them played a convincing knock and were made to work hard for every run as Holland did well in both bowling and fielding departments. Experienced opener Saeed Anwar made a patchy 25 while Inzamam earned a second ball nought, his second successive no score in this tournament.
To add to the woes, Pakistan innings saw two suicidal run outs and lazy running between the wickets. However, their formidable bowling line-up proved to be more than just a handful for Holland. Fittingly, the first wicket was claimed by Akram who dismissed opener Nick Statham to complete 500 wickets in One-day cricket. He went on to claim two more wickets to finish with figures of three for 24. Coupled with his 414 Test scalps, Akram now has an astonishing haul of 916 international wickets to his name.
Tearaway pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar, who earlier played a useful knock of 27 not out, returned with three wickets for 26 runs while Waqar Younis, Saqlain Mushtaq, Razzaq and Saeed Anwar claimed two wickets each. However, the Pakistanis conceded as many as 40 extras, the highest contributor to Holland score and the maximum that this tournament has seen so far. Daan van Bunge scored 31 while Luuk van Troost made 22. Holland, which have impressed with its performance even though it has not been able to win a match, was never in the run chase with Akram striking early to send back Statham in the third over.
By the 10th over, it had lost four wickets for 43 runs, before the middle order chipped in with some useful scores. Van Bunge hung in for 60 deliveries, putting up small partnerships with de Leede, who made 15, and van Troost before being caught by Latif off Razzaq in the 27th over. The lower order batsmen also offered some resistance before folding up at the total of 156. This was the fourth straight loss for Holland, which now has games against Zimbabwe and Namibia left.