Listless Pakistan fail to win by big margin
PAARL, Feb 25: Wasim Akram achieved another milestone in his distinguished career when he became the first bowler in one-day history to take 500 wickets in helping Pakistan earn four precious points against Holland on Tuesday.
The victory keeps Pakistan's faint hopes alive of advancing through to the Super Six stage in the World Cup.
On a hot and humid day at Boland Park, Holland never threatened Pakistan's 253 for nine and inevitably lost this Group 'A' fixture by 97 runs. The Dutch still remain without a point after four straight defeats.
No one expected Holland to emulate Kenya's stunning victory over Sri Lanka on Monday despite the fact that there is always a certain amount of expectancy of an upset when Pakistan play, regardless of the opposition's strength.
Pakistan's four-pronged pace attack, backed up by off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq, found Holland's amateur batsmen easy prey. Holland crumbled for 156 in 39.3 overs.
One surprise element was Pakistan's attitude. They took things easy and never went for the kill against the ICC Trophy champions. Perhaps the heat got to them.
Holland made a shaky start with Wasim, who had 499 wickets in 353 previous matches, dispatched opener Nick Statham for a duck with the first ball of his second over.
Shoaib Akhtar, bowling within himself, skipper Waqar Younis, Saqlain and Abdul Razzaq proved a handful thereafter as only Daan van Bunge (31) showed some defiance to emerge as the top scorer for Holland.
Shoaib (3-26) and Wasim (3-24) shared the bulk of wickets. Wasim now has claimed 12 wickets in the competition, second behind Sri Lanka's Chaminda Vaas who tops with 13 victims.
Earlier, Pakistan once again wasted a golden chance of some useful batting practice. A total of 253 for nine was not convincing enough, especially just before the key clash against India at the Centurion Park on Saturday.
Once again, none disappointed more so than Pakistan's premier batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq, this time going for a second-ball duck when Indian umpire Srinivas Venkataraghavan adjudged him lbw. It was a harsh decision as the TV replays suggested that the tall right-hander may have got a thin inside edge.
Not for the first time, Pakistan continued to play musical chairs with their batting order as, for the fourth innings on the trot, a new opening pair was sent, followed by a different No 3.
Due to injury to Younis Khan, who needed three stitches on a gash on his leg sustained during the nets, Pakistan were forced to make two changes. Saleem Elahi and Taufiq Umar replaced Younis and Shahid Afridi.
Apart from Inzamam, all the top order batsmen scored but none played a big innings. Yousuf Youhana was the top scorer with a 59-ball 58 - only the second Pakistani to cross the fifty mark in the competition - with four boundaries. He was adjudged the Man-of-the-Match by match referee Clive Lloyd.
After Saeed Anwar fell in the 20s for the third time in a row, Taufiq (48 off 71 balls, six fours) and Abdul Razzaq (47 off 63 balls, four fours) were out when well set. Taufiq was unluckily run out after a misunderstanding with Razzaq while the latter threw his wicket away to a lazy stroke.
There were other useful contributions from Rashid Latif (24) and Shoaib Akhtar, who justified his promotion with an unbeaten 26 off 27 deliveries.
Pakistan were on course for a score of around 280 had Youhana not ran out Wasim Akram.