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T20 World Cup: Unbeaten Pakistan beat Scotland by 72 runs, finish as Group 2 toppers (ld)

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Sharjah, Nov 7 (IANS) Pakistan continued their unbeaten streak in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup with a 72-run win over Scotland in their last Group 2 match at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium here on Sunday. With the big win, Pakistan signed off from the Super 12 as the toppers of Group 2. They are the only team to enter the semi-finals undefeated.

The win was set-up by a clinical batting performance by Pakistan, registering 189/4 in their 20 overs. It was started by a classy 66 off 47 balls by captain Babar Azam and ended with an unbeaten 18-ball 54 blitzkrieg by Shoaib Malik. In between, Mohammad Hafeez chipped in with an important cameo of 31 off 19 balls. In reply, Scotland never looked to chase the massive target and were eventually restricted to 117/6 in their 20 overs.

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George Munsey began by taking two boundaries off Shaheen Shah Afridi’s first two overs. Kyle Coetzer had a boundary off Imad Wasim but was bowled by Hasan Ali in a wicket-maiden final over of Power-play. Post Power-play, runs began to dry as Pakistan began to exert pressure on Scotland.

Matthew Cross was run-out at the non-striker’s end with Wasim getting a hand on the ball on a straight drive from Munsey. In an attempt to break free, Munsey tried to attack Shadab Khan but sliced to short third man in the 11th over. Two balls later, Khan had another wicket as Dylan Budge was bowled by a googly.

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Though the result was a foregone conclusion, Scotland tried to delay the inevitable. Michael Leask had a 41-run stand with Richie Berrington for the fifth wicket. The partnership broke when Afridi clean bowled Leask in the 16th over. Berrington, the lone warrior for Scotland, smashed two more boundaries and reached his half-century with a brace off Ali. But it wasn’t enough as Pakistan maintained their clean slate in the tournament.

Earlier, Pakistan had a brisk start in the Power-play, collecting 36 runs. Captain Babar Azam slammed a four each off Bradley Wheal and Safyaan Sharif while Mohammad Rizwan smashed a six over cow corner off Wheal. A struggling Rizwan (15) was first to fall, under-edging to keeper Matthew Cross off leg-spinner Hamza Tahir on the first ball post Power-play. Three overs later, Fakhar Zaman holed out to deep mid-wicket off Chris Greaves.

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Azam continued with his run-making spree, sharing a 53-run stand with Hafeez for the third wicket. Hafeez was severe on pacer Sayfaan Sharif, pulling him over wide long-on for a six followed by successive fours in the 15th over. But Sharif had the last laugh as Hafeez missed the pull and was trapped plumb lbw.

Azam reached his half-century with a single off Tahir in the next over. After he slammed Tahir down the ground for a six, he went on to whack Mark Watt over long-on for another six. Malik joined the party by tonking Watt for a lofted six over extra cover. Azam’s knock was brought to an end by Greaves, holing out to long-on in the 18th over.

Malik then launched a stunning exhibition of late-overs hitting in the last two overs. After slamming two massive sixes over long-on off Sharif, Malik carted Greaves for a six and four over deep mid-wicket followed by another six over long-on. He finished off the innings with another six over deep mid-wicket to amass 26 runs off the last over of the innings.

Brief scores: Pakistan 189/4 in 20 overs (Babar Azam 66, Shoaib Malik 54 not out, Chris Greaves 2-43, Hamza Tahir 1-24) beat Scotland 117/6 (Richie Berrington 54 not out, George Munsey 17, Shadab Khan 2-14, Shaheen Shah Afridi 1-24) by 72 runs

–IANS

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