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Rizwan guides Pakistan to vital win over Canada

T20 World Cup, Group A, New York

Canada 106-7 (20 overs): Johnson 52 (44); Amir 2-13

Pakistan 107-3 (17.3 overs): Rizwan 53* (53); Heyliger 2-18

Pakistan won by seven wickets

Scorecard. Table

Muhammad Rizwan made a steady unbeaten half-century as Pakistan kept their slim hopes of qualifying for the T20 World Cup Super 8s alive with a seven-wicket win over Canada in New York.

Aaron Johnson hit four sixes – the joint most by any player in an innings at this ground – as he made an eye-catching 52 off 44 balls to help Canada reach 106-7.

Mohammad Amir finished with 2-13 for Pakistan, while Haris Rauf moved to 101 T20 international wickets with figures of 2-26.

Rizwan and Babar Azam laid the platform for Pakistan’s reply with a stand of 63 for the second wicket before the latter was caught behind for 33 off Dilon Heyliger, who claimed 2-18.

Rizwan, who finished with a run-a-ball 53, got Pakistan close to the target before Usman Khan hit the winning runs with 15 balls to spare.

Pakistan must beat Ireland in their final game in Florida, improving their net run-rate in the process, and hope results elsewhere go their way to finish in the top two in Group A.

Despite this defeat Canada could also still mathematically qualify but would need to pull off a major shock and beat India in their last pool game for starters.

Relief for Pakistan as Rizwan makes amends

It has been a poor World Cup campaign for Pakistan.

A shock defeat by co-hosts United States in their opening match in Texas was followed by them squandering a good chance to beat India in New York.

A number of the homespun signs held up by those Pakistan fans inside the ground at Eisenhower Park for this match against Canada lamented such a prevailing sense of disappointment.

Pakistan limited overs coach Gary Kirsten has not minced his words over the past few days, either.

In truth, they were on a hiding to nothing against a side currently 23rd in the International Cricket Council's men’s T20 world rankings – the lowest of any team in the tournament.

Pakistan were expected to beat Canada at a canter while a second humbling at the hands of an Associate nation would have plunged them further into crisis.

The overriding emotion brought about by this victory is simply one of relief.

This was the second meeting in T20 internationals between these sides. A star-studded Pakistan side emphatically won the first in Ontario in 2008.

Their 2024 counterparts were made to work at times against a well-drilled Canada outfit, some of whom are part-time players working in banks, airports and alike.

Johnson, arguably Canada’s best better, had shown glimmers of his quality in the first two games with scores of 23 and 14, but he was a class above his team-mates with a pugnacious half-century.

Pakistan’s bowling attack had too much for Canada, though, as they finally hit their straps, led by Amir.

The departure of Saim Ayub might have caused a few flutters for Pakistan but as soon as Babar and Rizwan found their rhythm the result effectively became a formality.

A majestic six straight six down the ground from Babar in the ninth over saw the fans break out into ‘dil dil Pakistan’ for the first time.

With wickets in hand as the innings wore on, net run-rate began to creep into the minds of Pakistan’s top order.

Guilty of not seeing the job through against India, Rizwan was calmness personified in getting Pakistan home this time.

Qualification for the Super 8s seems extremely unlikely, but with Pakistan you never know.

'A much-needed win' - reaction

Player of the match, Pakistan bowler Mohammad Amir: "I was very clear with my plans and that's why I am getting this success.

"That was a much-needed win. One more win and who knows?"

Canada captain Saad Bin Zafar: "It was a bit disappointing. The pitch was not really helpful, it was difficult to bat, especially early on and just not a good toss to lose.

"Had we scored 130 plus we could have made a game out of it."

Pakistan captain Babar Azam: "We needed this win.

"We will have the same mindset in the final game. The conditions will be better, which will suit both teams. We will try our best to win this match."