USA outclass sloppy Pakistan in thrilling Super Over finish

Pakistan

USA 159 for 3 (Monank 50, Jones 36*, Gous 35) beat Pakistan 159 for 7 (Babar 44, Shadab 40, Kenjige 3-30, Netravalkar 2-18) via Super Over

USA muzzled an experienced Pakistan top order, brought their hitters to heel, then produced a measured batting performance that tied the scores at 159-all.

This forced the game into a Super Over, and here is when USA really seemed like the veteran team on the circuit while Pakistan went into high-pressure-meltdown mode.

Mohammad Amir, Pakistan’s most experienced bowler, bowled three wides in his Super Over, the US batters stealing another run every time, and Mohammad Rizwan conceded another extra run on an overthrow off the last of these wides.

Thanks to the extras and other acts of fielding indiscipline from Pakistan, USA made 18 off their Super Over

If this already seemed a tough ask for Pakistan to better, Saurabh Netravalkar made their job even more difficult. He had been outstanding for USA in regular play, taking 2 for 18 from his four overs. His Super Over was outstanding too, as he conceded just one boundary.

Thanks to four leg byes off the penultimate delivery, Shadab Khan had the opportunity to send the match into a second super over if he clobbered a six off the last ball. He could only hit it to deep point, all along the ground.

The USA were jubilant, having taken down the biggest opposition they had ever faced. Pakistan, ahead of their massive match against India, had been subjected to one of their greatest World Cup setbacks. It’s not as if Pakistan had had it in their grip and let it slip – USA had actually been in control of this match for much of its duration.

Netravalkar and Kenjige share five wickets
Left-arm seamer Netravalkar had Rizwan caught at slip – fairly spectacularly by Steven Taylor – to begin with, second over. Then, in the third, left-arm spinner Nosthush Kenjige had Usman Khan holing out to long-off, bringing Pakistan’s score to 14 for 2.

Others would take wickets in between, of course, but these two would continue to impose themselves.

Pakistan made only 35 in the powerplay, and Netravalkar bowled three overs for just eight runs in that phase. Kenjige came back in the middle overs and made crucial incisions, dismissing Shadab Khan, who looked the most fluent of Pakistan’s batters, for 40 off 25 balls, before getting Azam Khan first ball with a fast slider. All up, these two took 5 for 48 in eight overs between them.

Netravalkar bowling the Super Over, and conceding just one four, was a bonus.

USA measured in their approach
Although this would turn out to be USA’s first major act of giant-killing on the global stage, their measured batting performance gave no sense of being a bolt from the blue. Their openers were not parted for five overs, but they only made 36 together.

Then the second-wicket partnership, between captain Monank Patel and Andries Gous, brought 68 runs in 48 balls, and formed the backbone of the chase.

Monank provided most of the highlights in this partnership, making 50 off 38, hitting seven fours and one glorious six down the ground to get to his half-century, off Shaheen Shah Afridi. He was out soon after, but had left USA in a potentially winning position.

Pakistan pull things back at the death
Even with Monank and Gous out with 35 balls to go, Pakistan still had to bowl well, with USA only needing 49. Naseem Shah, Shaheen and Amir shone through the death overs to leave USA needing 15 off the last over. Haris Rauf, landing his yorkers there or thereabouts, brought the equation down to 12 off 3.

But then, Jones smashed a six off a low full-toss on the stumps, then with five required off the last ball, Nitish Kumar crashed a four over mid-off to tie the game.

Super over mayhem
It was at this point, though, that the more experienced international team lost their heads, and USA kept theirs. Both teams hit a four each in their Super Overs. But Pakistan’s waywardness in terms of wides and overthrows cost them. USA won the Super Over 18 to 13.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is a senior writer at ESPNcricinfo. @afidelf

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