Fakhar says he sacrificed century for team goal

Fakhar Zaman watches the ball after playing a shot during the 2023 ICC Men´s Cricket World Cup one-day international (ODI) match between Pakistan and Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on October 31, 2023. —AFP

KOLKATA: Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman said he has no regrets over missing out on a World Cup century saying he sacrificed the hundred to boost the team’s net run-rate in Tuesday’s must-win clash against Bangladesh.

Pakistan began their campaign with back-to-back wins but went into the match at Eden Gardens with their semi-final hopes hanging in balance after four defeats in a row.

They beat Bangladesh by seven wickets, and chased down the victory target with 17.3 overs to spare in a major boost to their net run-rate, which could come in handy when separating teams level on points.

Fakhar led Pakistan’s chase with a freewheeling 81, which earned him the player-of-the-match award, but fell short of a hundred trying to wrap up their chase early.

“The situation we were in at that moment, we were looking to chase it in 28-29 overs,” the 33-year-old, whose form and knee injury kept him out Pakistan’s first five matches, told reporters.

“So that’s why I was just going (after the bowlers).

“Otherwise, it was very easy for me to get to the 100 after 50. But our goal was to achieve the target within 29-30 overs.”

Speaking about his injury, he said although he could have played with the injury as it was not “too serious,” it was a right decision to take little rest.

Pakistan are currently fifth in the table, level on six points with Afghanistan, who have played one game fewer, while Bangladesh became the first team to bow out of the tournament.

Sri Lanka and the Netherlands can also join them in a mid-table logjam should both win their next games.

Fakhar said the mood was upbeat in the dressing room despite the uncertainty around the 1992 champions making the last four in the showpiece 50-overs tournament.

“In the World Cup, each win gives you confidence and we were waiting for this win.

“We are in the ifs-and-buts (zone) right now – but we will try to win both the remaining matches with good run rates.

“Our target is the semi-final and we will try for that.”

He said the Indian pitches are easy for batsmen but bowlers have to bowl accurately.

The left-hander admitted the team was under pressure after the loss against India.

“The Pakistan vs India match has an impact and also makes a difference on the performance,” the batter added.

Pakistan face 2019 runners-up New Zealand and holders England in their remaining group matches.

— With input from Reuters

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