Pakistan holds out hope of reaching semi-finals of ICC World Cup

By Abdul Nasir Khan

LONDON -- Pakistan still has a chance to reach the semi-finals of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Men's World Cup 2019 after defeating South Africa by 49 runs in a crucial league match in London Sunday (June 23).

Pakistan was promoted to the seventh position from ninth at the point table after the win.

The team will have to defeat New Zealand (June 26), Afghanistan (June 29) and Bangladesh (July 5) with good margins in order to reach the semi-finals.

Pakistan, after winning the toss, batted first and set a 309-run target for South Africa in its allotted 50 overs. Haris Sohail was the top scorer with 89 runs, while Babar Azam accumulated 69 runs. Opening batsmen Fakhar Zaman and Imam ul Haq added 44 runs each to Pakistan's total of 308-7.

South Africa scored 259-9 in 50 stipulated overs.

"If Pakistan wins its remaining three matches, it will [automatically] get 11 points. That will not be enough... it will need a good net run rate to qualify for the semi-finals," said senior Karachi-based sports journalist Mehmood Riaz.

"England, at the moment, is at fourth position on the point table with eight points, and it has to play with the other top three teams (New Zealand, Australia and India)," Riaz said.

If England loses two matches, Pakistan could reach the semi-finals, he said.

Young men in Afghanistan and Pakistan often have great interest in popular sports like cricket, which helps in efforts to turn them away from possible recruitment by militant groups.

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