Hyderabad, 7 October 2023 (TDI): Pakistan has commenced its ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 journey with an 81-run victory against the Netherlands at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Hyderabad.

However, before Pakistan secured their 81-run win at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, a determined Dutch side managed to give Babar Azam’s team a bit of a scare.

Fast bowler Haris Rauf played a pivotal role, taking three wickets to dismiss the Dutch innings in just 41 overs.

All-rounder Bas de Leede stood out for the Netherlands, both as the top-scorer for his team with 67 runs and for his earlier performance, where he took four wickets.

Dutch opener Vikramjit Singh contributed with 52 runs and formed a 70-run partnership with de Leede, which posed a significant threat to Pakistan and nearly led to an unexpected loss in their first game.

Pakistan’s fast bowlers, including Rauf, Hasan Ali, and Shaheen Shah Afridi, collectively took six wickets, playing a crucial role in securing a winning start to the tournament for their team.

Spinners Shadab Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, and Mohammad Nawaz each contributed with one wicket apiece.

In the earlier part of the match, Pakistan was bowled out for a total of 286 runs, with notable half-centuries coming from Saud Shakeel and Mohammad Rizwan during their innings.

De Leede’s impressive performance with the ball, claiming 4 wickets for 62 runs, brought the Netherlands back into the game after Saud Shakeel’s stylish 52-ball 68 and Mohammad Rizwan’s composed 75-ball 68 had propelled Pakistan’s innings, especially considering they were put into bat.

The Netherlands’ decision to bowl first was vindicated when their pacer, Logan van Beek, dismissed the out-of-form opener Fakhar Zaman by taking a catch and bowled him for 12 runs in the fourth over.

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Spinner Colin Ackermann then made a crucial breakthrough by dismissing the prized wicket of Pakistan’s skipper, Babar Azam, for just five runs, and Paul van Meekeren removed Imam-ul-Haq for 15, leaving Pakistan in a precarious position at 38-3.

Saud Shakeel and Mohammad Rizwan, in their debut World Cup match, provided stability to the innings with an impressive 120-run partnership for the fourth wicket.

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Pakistan received a boost when Mohammad Nawaz (39) and Shadab Khan (32) combined for a crucial 64-run partnership for the seventh wicket.

However, their momentum was halted as Bas de Leede dismissed both Shadab and Hasan Ali off successive deliveries.

In the 47th over, Mohammad Nawaz was run out, and the innings came to an end in the 49th over with the dismissal of Haris Rauf, thanks to Colin Ackermann’s bowling.