By our correspondent
LAHORE: Pakistan on Friday took a sublime start to their ICC World Cup campaign when they conquered Netherlands by 81 runs in their opener in Hyderabad.
Chasing 287 Netherlands had a solid start but failed to keep momentum and were folded for 205 thanks to left-handed opener Vikramjit Singh and all-rounder Bas de Leede who top-scored for their side with 52 and 67 runs respectively.
Meanwhile all of Pakistan’s six bowlers picked up wickets with Haris Rauf taking three, Hasan Ali bagging two and Shaheen Afridi, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz and Iftikhar Ahmed grabbing one each.
Earlier, Pakistan posted a total of 286 after Babar Azam’s men came with the burden of losing three wickets in the first 10 overs but produced quite a laudable comeback thereafter.
After winning the toss, Scott Edwards decided to bowl first in Hyderabad. Middle-order batter Saud Shakeel hit a half-century in just 37 balls while Babar Azam walked out for five runs in 18 balls.
The middle-order duo of Mohammed Rizwan and Shakeel spearheaded their fight whereas Shadab Khan and Mohammed Nawaz played handy roles with the bat later on to take the Pakistani team to a potentially match-winning total.
Pakistani vice-captain Shadab Khan took charge of their first innings after the visitors were six wickets down after 37 overs.
Shadab Khan walked into the middle and took his time with a few deliveries and kept rotating the strike with some timely boundaries. He got to 22 off 21 deliveries with extreme ease. But it was his first six and second from Pakistan’s innings that’s worth appreciating.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Nawaz played a valuable knock of 39 off 43 balls.
Asked to take the first strike, Pakistan rode on half-centuries from Mohammad Rizwan (68) and Saud Shakeel (68) to post a solid total on the board. Bas de Leede returned with four wickets for Netherlands, while Colin Ackermann snapped two dismissals.