Tuesday 24 June 2008 

Sohail Tanvir And Fawad Alam Set Pakistan Up For Win

A record-breaking century partnership between Sohail Tanvir and Fawad Alam rescued Pakistan and sent them on the way to a 155-run win over Hong Kong in the opening match of the Asia Cup in Karachi.

They recovered from 161 to seven to post 288 for nine with Alam unbeaten on 63 at the end of their innings before Hong Kong were bowled out for a mere 133 in the 38th over.

Younus Khan scored his 33rd One Day International half-century as Pakistan dominated the early exchanges before left-arm spinner Nadeem Ahmed's four wickets turned the tables, leaving Pakistan in trouble before maiden ODI half-centuries for Tanvir and Fawad as they added 100 for the eighth wicket put them back in a strong position.

Pakistan had eased past 100 after 15 overs although the minnows took two wickets before the drinks break to keep themselves in the match before Nadeem took four big wickets after the interval.

Pakistan won the toss and batting first, but Salman Butt was out to the third ball, edging Afzaal Haider to wicket-keeper James Atkinson for a simple catch.

Shoaib Malik and Younus Khan then added a half-century partnership being largely untroubled by the medium pace attack of Hong Kong, boundaries coming quickly before Malik fell to a superb catch at backward point by Hussain Butt off of Irfan Ahmed.

Malik went for 35 and soon after the break for liquid refreshment, Mohammad Yousuf top edged a sweep off of Nadeem and was easily caught by Afzaal Haider for 28 from 28 balls.

He had added a half-century partnership with Younus, who reached his own half-century from 51 balls with a crisp cut to the boundary. Younus (67) dispatched Nadeem over long on for a six before being stumped off a ball that turned sharply later in the over.

Nadeem's fourth victim was Misbah-ul-Haq, trapped in front for two to reduce Pakistan to 140 for five, and ten runs later Shahid Afridi was sharply caught and bowled as Nadeem became the first man to take four wickets in a One Day International for Hong Kong.

Sarfraz Ahmed (seven) was run out by Hussain Butt after a "Yes-No" call from Fawad Alam left him stranded and Pakistan on 161 for seven. Alam then combined with Sohail Tanvir to add a half-century partnership for the eighth wicket to take Pakistan past 200.

That exploded into a century stand with Tanvir registering his maiden ODI half-century with a lofted drive over cover, one of six fours he hit before holing out at long off in the 47th over.

It had been a crucial time to register a career-best for the left-hander, and his stand with Fawad Alam, who played 60 balls before finding the boundary, saved Pakistan from serious embarrassment as he reached fifty from 70 balls.

The late innings momentum carried over with Tanvir striking to remove opener Skhawat Ali, who was caught by substitute Mansoor Amjad for eight, moments after captain Tabarak Dar had had to leave the field after he had received a nasty blow to the jaw, Umar Gul the bowler.

Gul had been hit for two sweetly-timed fours before banging the ball in short and was soon removed from the attack for Iftikhar Rao to strike with his first ball, clean bowling Irfan Ahmed for a golden duck.

He repeated the trick to dismiss Hussain Butt for four and Courtney Kruger perished in a similar manner to Sohail Tanvir for a four-ball duck, leaving Hong Kong well behind and looking already as if the target was well beyond them.

Pakistan, meanwhile, found amusement as the cameras homed in on a fan who was the spitting image of batsman Mohammad Yousuf, with Yousuf himself enjoying the joke.

After the fuss had died down, James Atkinson's involvement in the match ended as he became the fourth Hong Kong batsmen to be bowled, Shahid Afridi deceiving him with a flighted delivery which had the 17-year-old on his way back for 18.

Tabarak returned to the fray and was quickly joined by another team-mate as Zain Abbas had to call for a runner, suffering from cramps. Eventually he had to retire hurt and the new batsman Munir Das, immediately hit Shoaib Malik for two fours to at least show some intent at chasing down the total.

Tabarak could not keep up with his namesake and was trapped in front by Shahid Afridi for 24 and Munir was run out for 14 from 12 balls when Najeeb Amar did not respond to his call for a single. Younus Khan then claimed his second One Day International wicket when he had Amar trapped in front for 14 and shortly after the match was over when Nadeem Ahmed was caught in the deep by Misbah off of Fawad Alam.

Tanvir, Iftikhar and Afridi all picked up two wickets.

John Pennington
© Cricket World 2008

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