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USA's cricket team beats Pakistan in stunning upset at T20 World Cup

Cricket World Cup in New York
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The United States beat cricket heavyweight Pakistan, scoring a major upset in the T20 World Cup on Thursday — a historic win for a country where most people hardly understand the rules of the game.

The U.S. had romped to seven-wicket win over Canada in its opening game. Aaron Jones, who smashed a 40-ball unbeaten 94 against Canada, once again starred for the tournament co-host when he stretched the game into super over with another vital knock of 36 not out off 26.

Jones hit a six off Haris Rauf and then a single before Nitish Kumar's boundary off the final ball tied the score at 159 at the end of regulation as Pakistan's experienced fast bowler gave away 14 runs off the final six balls.

T20 Cricket WCup USA Pakistan
United States' Saurabh Nethralvakar, left, and Harmeet Singh celebrate after their win in the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match against Pakistan at the Grand Prairie Stadium in Grand Prairie, Texas, Thursday, June 6, 2024. Tony Gutierrez / AP

Pakistan panicked in the super over when much experienced fast bowler Mohammad Amir, preferred over Shaheen Shah Afridi, gave away 18 runs that included seven runs off wide balls as Jones smashed a boundary against the left-arm seamer.

Left-arm fast bowler Saurabh Netravalkar, who earlier bowled brilliantly and grabbed 2-18 off his four overs, conceded only 13 runs in the super over to earn the U.S. its most historic Twenty20 win against Pakistan, the 2009 champion. 

Iftikhar Ahmed smashed boundary off Netravalkar's second ball, before holing out at long off as the left-arm seamer kept his cool and snatched a famous win for the U.S.

In addition to his pro cricket career, Netravalkar is also a computer software engineer who works at Oracle in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to his LinkedIn profile.

"It's a big achievement," U.S. captain says

"It's a big achievement, beating Pakistan while playing for the first time (against them)," U.S. captain Monank Patel said. "We used the conditions well (and) kept them to 160, which was chaseable."

It was a disastrous start for captain Babar Azam's Pakistan, which is due to meet archrival India on Sunday in New York.

"All credit to the USA who did well in all the three departments and that's why they won," Babar said. "We couldn't capitalize during the first six overs. We took the momentum, but back-to-back wickets hurt us."

The Americans looked well on course to stun Pakistan during regulation game when skipper Patel hit 50 off 38 balls and together with Andries Gous (35) breezed the home team to 104-1 in 13 overs before Pakistan staged a comeback and dismissed both the set batters in successive overs as the U.S. finished at 159-3.

T20 Cricket WCup USA Pakistan
Fans cheer for the U.S. team during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match against Pakistan at the Grand Prairie Stadium in Grand Prairie, Texas, on June 6, 2024. Tony Gutierrez / AP

Patel and Ghous added 68 runs for the second wicket as Pakistan's four-man pace attack led by Shaheen Shah Afridi couldn't trouble them and leg-spinner Shadab Khan looked off, too, before Amir gave Pakistan a glimmer of hope.

Amir had Patel caught behind off a slow off-cutter and Ghous was clean bowled by Rauf. But Rauf, who bowled the last over with a cushion of 15 runs, couldn't stop Jones and Kumar from taking the game into super over with two big hits off the final three deliveries.

Pakistan's batting, which has been struggling for a year in the sport's shortest format, got further exposed against some disciplined U.S. seam bowling after Patel won the toss and elected to field and restricted the opposition to 159-7.

A perfect U.S. start

The reunion of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan as the opening pair also couldn't bail them out and the middle-order stuttered on a slow wicket.

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

The left-arm spin of Nosthush Kenjige (3-30) also troubled Pakistan batters inside the power play as Usman Khan played a reckless shot and holed out while Fakhar Zaman's weak ramp shot couldn't clear the fielder at short fine leg inside the 30-yard circle as Pakistan slipped to 26-3 in the fifth over.

T20 Cricket WCup USA Pakistan
United States' captain Monank Patel, left, celebrates scoring runs with batting partner Andries Gous during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match against Pakistan, June 6, 2024. Tony Gutierrez / AP

Babar (44) and Shadab Khan (40) tried to regain the momentum and raised 72-run stand before Kenjige broke the threatening stand in the 13th over when Shadab was brilliantly snapped by Netravalkar at short fine leg and Azam Khan was pinned leg before wicket off the first ball by the left-arm spinner.

Babar, who became world's leading T20 run-getter and surpassed Virat Kohli's tally of 4,038 runs, looked scratchy in his 43-ball knock that included two sixes and three boundaries before he fell lbw 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 that included two late sixes that lifted Pakistan's total in the death overs.

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