England will face Pakistan in the 44th match of the ODI World Cup 2023 on Saturday. The ENG vs PAK game will be played at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata from 2 PM IST onwards.
Nothing less than a miracle will help Pakistan as they face a near-impossible task of making the semifinals by winning with an unthinkable margin, while a charged-up England will look to qualify for the Champions Trophy when the two sides clash in the World Cup clash.
New Zealand’s net run-rate boosting five wicket-win over Sri Lanka has virtually shattered Pakistan’s semifinal hopes. The 1992 champions now have to beat England by an improbable margin.
New Zealand’s NRR is +0.743 while Pakistan’s is +0.036 and for the Babar Azam-led side to eclipse the former to qualify as the fourth side, it has to win by around 287 runs batting first. While chasing, Pakistan need to win with 284 balls to spare. That is an impractical task.
For defending champions England, the World Cup title defence dream may have been over for quite a sometime now but the Jos Buttler-led side will aim to finish inside top-8 to make the cut for the 2025 Champions Trophy.
As things stand, it’s a four-way race with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Netherlands also in the mix with England.
Their 160-run win over the Netherlands in the last match has given down-and-out England the much-needed late charge as they have climbed up to the seventh spot and face the easiest equation among the four teams.
A win against Pakistan should seal the spot, considering that both Bangladesh and the Netherlands face tough opponents in Australia and India respectively, and also have inferior NRRs than England.
Hitting back at critics for questioning his leadership skills, Pakistan skipper Babar Azam on Friday said it’s easy to give opinion on TV and asserted that captaincy had no adverse impact on his batting in the World Cup.
Azam has been in the eye of storm after their embarrassing eight-wicket defeat against Afghanistan and for failing to defend 271 against South Africa, who they had reduced to 260/9.
Former skippers including Moin Khan and Shoaib Malik have openly criticised Babar’s captaincy on air and felt that the burden of leadership has affected his batting.
“It’s very easy to give an opinion on TV. If someone wishes to offer advice, they are welcome to call me directly, my number is known to everyone,” Babar said, referring to the criticism.
England opener Dawid Malan may have been their lone soldier in a disastrous World Cup campaign, but at 36, the second oldest member of the side feels their match against Pakistan on Saturday could be his ‘last’ ODI.
“Yeah, I guess I’m in a unique situation being the second oldest in this team. I don’t know what my future holds, whether that be my choice or the team’s choice,” Malan said in their pre-match media conference.
With one century and two fifties, the left-handed opener has been the top run-getter (373) for England in this World Cup.
“After this tournament probably, I have a bit of reflection time and see where I’m at and see what the future holds for me. Tomorrow could be the last game of cricket for England for me and it could still be the start of another journey. Who knows? We’ll only find out when the dust settles,” he said.