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The Barbados Nation 7th Super Six Match: Pakistan v Zimbabwe
The Barbados Nation - 11 June 1999

Pakistan join SA at top

LONDON The unthinkable prospect of elimination roused Pakistan out of their dangerous lethargy in their last match in the World Cup Super Sixes yesterday.

Keenly aware that only victory would guarantee them a place in the semifinals and equally conscious of the immediate repercussions among thousands of their noisy, flag-waving countrymen in the jam-packed stands they crushed Zimbabwe by 148 runs, emphatic a result as any in the tournament.

It brought them level with South Africa with six points and no one else can catch them.

The remaining two semifinalists will come from Australia, New Zealand and Zimbabwe and will not be known until the final Super Sixes match ends tomorrow.

It was the second defeat in three days for the Zimbabweans, rank outsiders before the tournament began, whose shortcomings are being exposed by powerful opponents desperate for victory.

Yet Zimbabwe still have five points, four brought forward from the first round, and remain a definite contender for one of the two remaining semifinal places for which Australia and New Zealand are also striving.

New Zealand, with three points, will level with Zimbabwe on five if they beat India. Yesterday, India were eliminated, with a touch of irony, by the triumph of their arch-rivals, Pakistan.

If New Zealand prevail, Australia, the original second favourites, must beat South Africa tomorrow for their anticipated entry into the last four.

The permutation goes like this. If New Zealand lose to India, they go out and Zimbabwe and Australia advance. If they win and Australia lose to South Africa, they and Zimbabwe go through. If both New Zealand and Australia win, Australia take one semifinal place and the fourth will be decided between New Zealand and Zimbabwe on net run rate which favours the former.

Pakistan capitalised on an ideal pitch yesterday to amass 271 for nine off their 50 overs.

Shoaib Ahktar, charging in like Ato Bolden to unleash his 90 mph thunderbolts, immediately announced Pakistan's intentions with a first ball bouncer that thudded into Neil Johnson's helmet and the rest of their powerful and well-balanced bowling proceeded to brush aside the lightweight batting for 123 in 40.3 overs. The consistent Johnson's 54 was the only score above 16.

The day had a perfect climax for the Pakistanis as Saqlain Mushtaq, the crafty off-spinner operating on the ground where he plays county cricket for Surrey, finished off proceedings with only the second hat-trick in World Cup history.

The foundations for Pakistan's sizeable total were built by Saeed Anwar's 103 off 143 balls with 11 fours, the left-hander's 16th hundred in One-Day Internationals but his first in the World Cup, and his opening partnership of 95 in 18.5 overs with the right-handed Wajahatulla Wasti.

At 160 for two after 30 overs, with Anwar and Inzamam-ul-Haq in partnership, a total of 300 and more appeared likely.

But Zimbabwe did well to restrict the late overs damage, using the rare limited-overs combination of two leg-spinners, Adam Huckle and Paul Strang, together with good effect.

A knee injury meant Johnson, who had frequently made an early breakthrough, was unable to bowl, prompting the inclusion of an additional bowler to the exclusion of a batsman.

Their fielding, usually their strongest suit, for once let them down. Anwar would have been run out for two had Olonga scored with a direct hit from mid-off and for 18 had captain Alistair Campbell not missed a two-handed catch at second slip off the medium-pace outswinger, Pommie Mbangwa, impressively filling in for Johnson with the new ball.

Source: The Barbados Nation
Editorial comments can be sent to The Barbados Nation at nationnews@sunbeach.net