Often, when the Pakistan team is stuck in a difficult situation in any ICC tournament, it is said that sometimes rain, sometimes a major upset, and sometimes very poor fielding of the opposing teams comes to its aid.
Something similar happened on Saturday in the very important match played between Pakistan and New Zealand at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, which Pakistani fans are calling 'Law of Nature'. In a rain-limited match, Pakistan defeated New Zealand by 21 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis rule and kept their hopes of reaching the semi-finals alive.
Although the bowlers were defeated in both the innings of this match and the batsmen remained dominant, but Fakhar Zaman's inning of 126 runs in just 81 balls turned the tide of the match in favor of Pakistan. The match was interrupted twice due to rain. The first hurdle came when Pakistan team was leading under the DLS i.e. Duckworth-Lewis system created for matches affected by rain.
Both the Pakistani batsmen at the crease maintained the winning lead for Pakistan by batting aggressively keeping the target in mind. Then when the match was stopped for the last time due to rain, Pakistan was 21 runs ahead of the required score to win under DLS. Due to continuous rain, Pakistan was declared the winner.
The beauty of this match was that no one thought that Pakistan would be able to chase this big target. But then due to Fakhar Zaman's aggressive batting, Babar Azam's responsible innings and finally, in the words of the fans, 'Law of Nature', Pakistan won the match by 21 runs.
Fakhar Zaman, who could participate in only three matches for Pakistan in this World Cup, played such a brilliant inning on Saturday that the Kiwi bowlers as well as the Pakistani fans were surprised.
Fakhar was earlier in poor form in the Asia Cup and did not perform well in the World Cup warm-up matches as well as in Pakistan's first match against the Netherlands.
For this reason, Pakistan had included Abdullah Shafiq in the team in his place. However, due to Imamul Haq's poor performance during the World Cup and according to the Pakistani team management, he could not be played even in the match against Bangladesh due to a knee injury.
Fakhar finally got a place in the team when Pakistan not only had to win all its matches to maintain its chances of reaching the semi-finals but also had to improve its net run rate. He was included in the match against Bangladesh and he performed brilliantly in that match, scoring 81 runs with the help of seven sixes and three fours.
However, when this left-handed Pakistani opener stepped on the field on Saturday, there was a target like a mountain in front of him. A target of 402 is enough to put even the biggest batting order under pressure. But Fakhar Zaman maintained his form of hitting sixes. Since his return in this World Cup, he has hit 18 sixes. He was successful in giving Pakistan the aggressive start it needed.
Sometimes during the match, it seemed as if he had an ax in his hand and was waving it at the crease. When Babar Azam came to the crease after the early dismissal of Abdullah Shafiq, both of them played responsibly and formed a partnership.
The brave and aggressive innings played by Fakhar Zaman on Saturday amidst the dark clouds hovering over the sky of Bengaluru, has become immortal in the history of the World Cup.
New Zealand tried to silence him with the off-spin of Glenn Phillips, but after playing his first over as a maiden, he scored 42 runs in his next four overs, which included three sixes and three fours.
Similarly, after the first break due to rain, Babar Azam also adopted an aggressive stance and completed his half-century while batting aggressively against Ish Sodhi and thus Pakistan was successful in gaining a lead of 21 runs.
New Zealand had given Pakistan a target of 402 runs to win. New Zealand had scored 401 runs at the loss of 6 wickets. In reply, Pakistan scored 200 runs at the loss of one wicket in 25.3 overs. The only player to be out was Abdullah Shafiq who was caught by Williamson off Saudi's ball after scoring four runs.
After his dismissal, captain Babar Azam supported Fakhar Zaman. Fakhar Zaman also completed the 11th century of his career. This is his fastest century. He remained not out after scoring 126 runs on 81 balls.
Pakistan got New Zealand's first wicket in the 11th over. Dion Conway was caught out by Mohammad Rizwan on the ball of Hasan Ali. He scored 35 runs on 39 balls. In this way Hasan Ali got his 100th ODI wicket.
New Zealand batsman Rachin Ravindra completed his century in 88 balls in the 34th over. This is his third century in this World Cup but he was caught out by Saud Shakeel on the ball of Mohammad Wasim in the 36th over at the score of 108 runs. Kane Williamson, in partnership with Rachin Ravindra, scored 95 runs in the 35th over before being caught by Fakhar Zaman off the bowling of Iftikhar Ahmed.
Haris Rauf took the fourth wicket for Pakistan in 42 overs off the bowling of Daryl Mitchell. Daryl Mitchell was out after scoring 29 runs in 19 balls. In the 45th over, Mohammad Wasim dismissed Mark Chapman for 39 runs and then in the 49th over, Mohammad Wasim dismissed Glenn Phillips for 41 runs. Tom Latham and Mitchell Santner remained not out.