U.S. shocks cricket heavyweight Pakistan at T20 World Cup in Super Over tiebreaker

Aaron Jones hit the ball out of the park again and the United States edged cricket heavyweight Pakistan in a Super Over tiebreaker for one of the biggest upsets ever at a Twenty20 World Cup.

After a match-winning batting performance in the tournament opener against Canada, Jones was instrumental again Thursday in the dramatic win over 2022 runner-up Pakistan.

Cricket has a long but relatively little-known history in the United States. It’s the national sport in Pakistan, a long-time member of the cricket establishment and a three-time T20 World Cup finalist.

The star players are household names. Whereas Jones and the U.S. squad have flown in under the radar.

“Playing against Pakistan for the first time in the World Cup and beating them, it was an unbelievable performance,” U.S. captain Monank Patel said. “Beating Pakistan, you know, it’s a big achievement.”

Patel said as far as he was concerned, the U.S. team’s campaign was going to plan.

“We’re not worried about what people are saying. We know what we are worth and what capability we have, and we just focus on, the particular game,” he said. “We don’t want to keep our emotions too high or low.

“We’ll make sure that we whatever … the win today, we will enjoy it and make sure that we next day, we come fresh.”

Disastrous start 

It was a disastrous start for captain Babar Azam’s Pakistan, which is due to meet fierce rival India on Sunday in New York. Only the top two teams in each of the five-nation groups advance to the playoffs.

“All credit to the USA,” Babar said, adding that the Americans performed well in their batting, bowling and fielding departments “and that’s why they won.”

“We couldn’t capitalize during the first six overs. We took the momentum, but back-to-back wickets hurt us.”

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Overshadowed by the upset in Texas, Scotland moved atop Group B with a five-wicket win over Namibia in Bridgetown, Barbados. Namibia posted 155-9 and Scotland reached its winning total with nine balls remaining.

The game in Grand Prairie went the full distance, and more.

Jones, who smashed a 40-ball unbeaten 94 against Canada, once again starred for the tournament co-host when he stretched the game into a Super Over with another vital knock of 36 not out off 26.

Off successive deliveries, Jones hit a six off Haris Rauf and then a single before Nitish Kumar’s boundary off the last delivery in regulation tied the scores at 159.

Rauf, Pakistan’s experienced fast bowler, gave away 14 runs off the last six balls.

Pakistan panicked in the Super Over when 32-year-old fast bowler Mohammad Amir, who was part of the 2009 champion team, conceded 18 runs that included seven runs off wide balls as Jones went on the attack.

For the U.S., India- born left-arm fast bowler Saurabh Netravalkar, who grabbed 2-18 off his four overs in regulation, conceded just 13 runs in the Super Over to seal the historic win for the U.S.

The Americans were on course to stun Pakistan during regulation when skipper Patel hit 50 off 38 balls and Andries Gous added 35 to help the hosts reach 159-3.

Pakistan’s batting, which has been struggling for a year in the sport’s shortest format, was further exposed against some disciplined U.S. seam bowling and was restricted to 159-7.

Steven Taylor gave the home team a perfect start when he plucked a brilliant one-handed catch inches off the turf to dismiss Mohammad Rizwan in the second over off Netravalkar’s bowling.

The left-arm spin of Nosthush Kenjige (3-30) also troubled Pakistan, which slipped to 26-3 in the fifth over.

Babar (44) and Shadab Khan (40) tried to regain the momentum and combined for a 72-run stand before Kenjige broke through in the 13th over.

Babar, who became world’s leading T20 run-getter and surpassed Virat Kohli’s tally of 4,038 runs, appeared scratchy in his 43-ball knock before he fell leg before wicket to Jasdeep Singh’s delivery in the 16th over as Pakistan slipped to 125-6.

It was only due to Shaheen Shah Afridi’s 23 off 16 balls, including two late sixes, that lifted Pakistan’s total.

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