If Mohammad Rizwan and Saud Shakeel closed their eyes for a brief period after the end of the 34th over during their record 345-run chase in a World Cup 2023 match against Sri Lanka, they would have no reason to believe they are outside Pakistan. The loud “jeetega bhai jeetega Pakistan jeetega” chants at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Hyderabad gave the sense of Karachi, Rawalpindi, or even Lahore. Rizwan felt like he was in Pindi. “I felt like I was playing a match in Pindi. The way the crowd gave love today, and not just me, the whole Pakistan team gave love,” said Rizwan, the player of the match in the highest-ever run chase in World Cup history.It was not only Pakistan. Sri Lanka too had a lot of support in Hyderabad for the large of the match, especially when Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama were going all guns blazing in the first innings. “In fact, they supported Sri Lanka too. Because I am happy that the crowd in Hyderabad has supported cricket, both Sri Lanka and us. I had a lot of fun with them. The curator here said the same thing to me. When we got to the ground for the first time, he said, Rizwan, you must hit two 100s on this ground. I met him today as well. We can pray for him and you should pray for him too,” Rizwan added.
Pakistan’s record run-chase vs Sri Lanka
Hyderabad has been nothing short of a home away from home for Pakistan in this World Cup ever since they landed in the city of the Nizams about a week before the World Cup. They played both of their warm-up matches at the same venue before starting off their World Cup campaign against the Netherlands. It was not an ideal start as Pakistan lost its top-order early but the way they came brought joy to the supporters in Hyderabad.
The same was translated to their next match against Sri Lanka. A much bigger crowd greeted both sides as Pakistan and Sri Lanka put on a runfest. Powered by Mendis’ (122 off 77) fastest World Cup century by a Sri Lankan and a maiden ODI ton by Samarwickrama (108 off 89), Sri Lanka posted a mammoth 344/9.
Pakistan lost Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam early but Abdullah Shafique (113 off 103) and Rizwan (131* off 121) smashed centuries to make light work of the record run-chase, which was also Pakistan’s second-highest in ODIs, overall.