NZ Herald

6 Jun, 2024 09:46 PM4 mins to read

United States' Saurabh Nethralvakar celebrates after their win in the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match against Pakistan at the Grand Prairie Stadium in Grand Prairie, Texas. Photo / AP

Pakistan vs United States - Figure 1
Photo New Zealand Herald

Everything’s bigger in Texas, even the cricket upsets.

The United States scored a major upset at the T20 World Cup by beating cricket heavyweight Pakistan in a super over today.

The US had romped to a seven-wicket win over Canada in their opening game, but beating 2009 champions and 2022 runners-up Pakistan counts as historic in a country that barely understands the rules of the game.

Aaron Jones, who smashed a 40-ball unbeaten 94 against Canada, once again starred for the tournament co-hosts when he stretched the game into a super over with another vital knock of 36 not out from 26 balls.

Jones hit a six off Haris Rauf and then a single before Nitish Kumar’s boundary off the final ball tied the score at 159 at the end of regulation play as Pakistan’s experienced fast bowler gave away 14 runs off the final six balls.

Pakistan panicked in the super over when experienced fast bowler Mohammad Amir, preferred over Shaheen Shah Afridi, gave away 18 runs that included seven runs off wide balls as Jones smashed a boundary against the left-arm seamer.

Left-arm fast bowler Saurabh Netravalkar, who earlier bowled brilliantly and grabbed 2-18 off his four overs, conceded only 13 runs in the super over to earn the US their most historic Twenty20 win.

Iftikhar Ahmed smashed boundary off the Netravalkar’s second ball, before holing out at long off as the left-arm seamer kept his cool and snatched a famous win for the US.

“It’s a big achievement, beating Pakistan while playing for the first time [against them],” US captain Monank Patel said. “We used the conditions well [and] kept them to 160, which was chaseable.”

It was a disastrous start for captain Babar Azam’s Pakistan, who are due to meet arch-rivals India on Monday (NZT) in New York.

“All credit to the USA, who did well in all the three departments and that’s why they won,” Babar said. “We couldn’t capitalise during the first six overs. We took the momentum, but back-to-back wickets hurt us.”

The Americans looked well on course to stun Pakistan during regulation game time when skipper Patel hit 50 off 38 balls and together with Andries Gous (35) breezed the home team to 104-1 in 13 overs before Pakistan staged a comeback and dismissed both the set batters in successive overs as the US finished at 159-3.

Patel and Ghous added 68 runs for the second wicket as Pakistan’s four-man pace attack led by Afridi couldn’t trouble them and leg-spinner Shadab Khan looked off, too, before Amir gave Pakistan a glimmer of hope.

Amir had Patel caught behind off a slow off-cutter and Ghous was clean bowled by Rauf. But Rauf, who bowled the last over with a cushion of 15 runs, couldn’t stop Jones and Kumar from taking the game into super over with two big hits off the final three deliveries.

Pakistan’s batting, which has been struggling for a year in the sport’s shortest format, got further exposed against some disciplined US seam bowling after Patel won the toss and elected to field and restricted the opposition to 159-7.

The reunion of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan as the opening pair also couldn’t bail them out and the middle-order stuttered on a slow wicket.

Steven Taylor gave the home team a perfect start when he plucked a brilliant one-handed catch inches off the turf to dismiss Rizwan in the second over off Netravalkar.

The left-arm spin of Nosthush Kenjige (3-30) also troubled Pakistan batters inside the power play as Usman Khan played a reckless shot and holed out while Fakhar Zaman’s weak ramp shot couldn’t clear the fielder at short fine leg inside the 30-yard circle as Pakistan slipped to 26-3 in the fifth over.

Babar (44) and Shadab Khan (40) tried to regain the momentum and managed a 72-run stand before Kenjige broke the threatening stand in the 13th over when Shadab was brilliantly snapped by Netravalkar at short fine leg and Azam Khan was pinned leg before wicket off the first ball by the left-arm spinner.

Babar, who became the world’s leading T20 run-getter and surpassed Virat Kohli’s tally of 4038 runs, looked scratchy in his 43-ball knock that included two sixes and three boundaries before he fell lbw to Jasdeep Singh’s delivery in the 16th over as Pakistan slipped to 125-6.

It was only due to Shaheen Shah Afridi’s 23 off 16 balls which included two late sixes that lifted Pakistan’s total in the death overs.

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