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Shakib Al Hasan once again proved why he is the best all-rounder in the world, Pakistan found a young crop of players for the coming years, and West Indies discovered in Cottrell a soldier who marched up to lead their bowling line-up.
Six teams may be leaving the World Cup now, but not empty-handed – some have valuable lessons learnt, players they want to discard or ones that they’d want to hold on to for a brighter future in ODIs, like these 5.
First up, is the all-round star Shakib Al Hasan who hadn’t played an international game in 5 months, but put his foot down, and got himself promoted to the No 3 spot in Bangladesh’s batting order. And then, the records tumbled.
The 32-year-old became the first player at this World Cup and only the third overall to cross 600 runs in a single edition. He finished the group stage as the third highest run-getter, having smashed two centuries and five half-centuries. And that’s not even all. Shakib the bowler picked up 11 scalps in the tournament, becoming the first cricketer to score over 500 runs and pick up 10 wickets in a World Cup.
Talking about records and there was a 19-year-old bowler at this World Cup, who despite being dropped mid-tournament, managed to finish as Pakistan’s second-highest wicket-taker and also enter his name in the cricket archives – Shaheen Shah Afridi.
The young bowler who made his ODI debut only in September last year, was brought in for Pakistan’s fourth league match against Australia, but after returning with 2/70 was again dropped for the game against India. He was then brought back for Pakistan’s last four matches, returned with 1/54, 3/28, 4/47 and capped off Pakistan’s campaign by becoming the youngest ever to take a World Cup fifer – his 6/35 against Bangladesh is the best ODI figures at Lord’s and also the best by a Pakistani in World Cup matches.
And while we’re on the topic of finishing, let’s talk about one of the best death bowlers in the group stage of the tournament – Mustafizur Rahman.
The injury-prone medium-fast pacer, who had been barred by his board from playing in T20 leagues around the world last year, didn’t have the best of starts to the WC – going wicketless against New Zealand and returning with 1/75 against England. Slowly but surely, the 23-year-old found his fizz, and finished the tournament with back-to-back five wicket hauls – first against India and then Pakistan. The second-highest wicket taker in the league stage, 12 of Mustafizur’s 20 wickets came in the last 5 overs of the game.
And now for the bowler who gave Imran Tahir some stiff competition for the best celebration, Sheldon Cottrell.
The West Indies left-arm pacer, also a soldier in the Jamaican Defence Force, came into the spotlight at this World Cup, not just because of his salute after every wicket, but also for his performance on the field. The 29-year-old was West Indies’ highest-wickettaker in this WC, finishing with 12 scalps in 9 games. Against New Zealand, he returned with a 4/56, removing both their openers for golden ducks in the first over of the game. He also dismissed Pandya and Shami in the same over to help restrict India. Besides his bowling, Cottrell’s fielding also caught the eye – his blinder at the boundary to dismiss Steve Smith and the lightning fast run-out of Tamim Iqbal could well win some awards.
And now for the last, but definitely not the least – Babar Azam.
Pakistan’s no 3 batsman Babar broke a 27-year-old record as he accumulated 474 runs in 8 games – the highest by a Pakistan cricketer at a single edition of the World Cup. His 69 against South Africa was just a teaser of what was a record-breaking century against New Zealand at Birmingham.
Chasing 237/6 both the Pakistan openers had been dismissed cheaply, when Babar came in, and hit a 127-ball 101 – Pakistan’s first World Cup ton by a non-opening batsman since 1987. During that knock, he also surpassed his idol, Virat Kohli, to become the second-fast to 3000 ODI runs. In their final league match when Pakistan needed a massive score to keep themselves in the hunt for a semifinals spot, Babar stepped up once again, hitting a 96 off 98 balls. But... it wasn’t enough.
Well, whose impressive performances will you miss in the playoffs of the World Cup? Tell us in the comments section below!
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