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Pakistan face uphill qualification task against vibrant Bangladesh
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Pakistan face uphill qualification task against vibrant Bangladesh

Pakistan's minimal chances of qualification into the semi-finals remain mathematically possible on paper only as they require a record margin of victory of 316 runs against a spirited Bangladesh provided they post 400 for the first time in their cricketing history.

Despite the contest practically being regarded as a dead rubber, the clash between the two Asian rivals at Lord's has its own context for both teams who aim to end their World Cup campaign on a winning note.

Pakistan's progression in this competition has embodied their trademark style of being slow starters before undergoing a mid-tournament transformation and embarking on a winning spree.

The eerie parallels with their 1992 World Cup campaign briefly sparked hopes of a repeat of that epic title win 27 years ago, but all those dreams came crashing down after England achieved successive victories over India and New Zealand leaving Pakistan nothing less of a miracle against Bangladesh to stay alive in the tournament.

Pakistan's topsy-turvy ride through this World Cup has seen them exhibit both their worst and their best on different occasions.

Their seven-wicket humiliation at the hands of the West Indies in the opening game continues to haunt them as that stinging loss is the major explanation behind their inferior net run-rate.

Pakistan's opponents, Bangladesh, have been fighting hard all throughout the tournament, riding confidently at the back of a stellar all-round show from veteran Shakib Al Hasan.

Currently the second leading run-getter in the World Cup, Shakib's excellence knows no bounds as he became the first cricketer to complete the double of 500 runs and 10 wickets in a single edition of the tournament.

The present Bangladesh side is nothing like its predecessors as it has valiantly battled to the final ball against top teams like New Zealand and India and achieved comfortable wins over South Africa and the West Indies.

Heading into their final game at this year's event, Mashrafe Mortaza's men would be optimistic of stretching their unbeaten streak over Pakistan that has seen them win four games on the trot against the familiar foes.

Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes mentioned on the eve of the contest the pressure lay more profusely in the Pakistan camp.

"We've got the pressure of 170 million back home wanting us to win but Pakistan can still qualify and, maybe, the pressure is all on Pakistan going into this game," he said on Thursday.

"Both teams are desperate to beat each other. We certainly are. They've got a lot to play for as well."

Doubts over Wahab's recovery

Wahab Riaz delivered one of the most courageous performances of his career when he came out to bat with a broken finger and lead his side to victory with a solid cameo in an enthralling encounter against Afghanistan.

There is still a cloud of uncertainty lingering over the left-arm paceman's full process of recovery and he might miss out in the final playing XI, given the fact the match has lost some of its previously held significance.

Teenage sensation Mohammad Hasnain could be in line for a World Cup debut assuming the management opts to rest Wahab against Bangladesh.

Mashrafe's farewell match in focus

While his team have done remarkably well in this tournament, skipper Mashrafe has personally had a World Cup to forget.

Faring poorly with just a solitary wicket in seven games, Mashrafe would be keen on signing off his World Cup experience on a strong note.

The team has seen many highs during the 35-year-old's leadership and it would mean a lot to the players to bid a special farewell to their most capped cricketer by a memorable win over Pakistan.

Squads

Pakistan: Sarfaraz Ahmed (c, wk), Asif Ali, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Amir, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Imam-ul-Haq, Shadab Khan, Shoaib Malik, Wahab Riaz, Haris Sohail, Imad Wasim, Fakhar Zaman

Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Abu Jayed, Liton Das, Mahmudullah, Mehidy Hasan, Mohammad Mithun (wk), Mohammad Saifuddin, Mosaddek Hussain, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hussain, Sabbir Rahman, Shakib Al Hasan, Soumya Sarkar, Tamim Iqbal