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A Triumph for Bangladesh Tigers as they beat Pakistan in Asia Cup

Bangladesh's Mushfiqur Rahim 99 today against Pakistan
©Reuters
 

In producing one of its most disciplined displays in the field, Bangladesh defended their total of 239 against Pakistan at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, to meet India in the final of the 2018 Asia Cup.

It was a great ODI victory to be savoured by the jubilant players and its supporters in Bangladesh and all around the world. Pakistan on the other hand, particularly skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, will come under tremendous pressure on his return, for failing to look an inspired leader. In sharp contrast Bangladesh’s wicket-keeper, Mushfiqur Rahim, was in seventh heaven for his innings of 99 today proved a match-winning knock and earned him a Man of the Match award.

Bangladesh won by 37 runs

Bangladesh 239/10 (48.5 Ov)

Pakistan 202/9 (49.6 Ov)

FULL SCORECARD

Bangladesh making first use of the Abu Dhabi wicket, found two left-arm pacemen, Junaid Khan and Shaheen Afridi, hungry for wickets. In no time they were wobbling at 12-3 in the 5th over, as both white balls swung for Pakistan bowlers. A determined 4th wicket stand worth 144 runs between wicket-keeper Mushfiqur Rahim (99) and Mohammad Mithun (60) represented Bangladesh’s fightback.  Junaid Khan, in his first game of the Asia Cup, in his second spell took another two wickets and his strikes restricted Bangladesh to 239 all out in 48.5 overs. He had provided the cutting edge, so badly missed in the last three matches. Junaid’s final figures of 4-19 off 9 overs, included 41 dot balls, one boundary and just one wide, illustrating superb control of an experienced campaigner, keen to prove a point.

Pakistan’s run-chase got off to a horrible start with Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam and Sarfraz Ahmed, all departing quickly with only 12 runs on the board. Imam-ul-Haq and Shoaib Malik, steadied the ship but at the half-way stage the total was 94-4 off 25 overs and the required run rate had climbed to 5.84. It was all an uphill task with Bangladesh right on top. Pakistan so under strain, the first six of the innings came in the 35th over, when Imam hit Mashrafe’s off spin over wide long-on. At 140-5 in 35 overs, Pakistan had managed to crawl back and required exactly 100 runs off 15 overs. It was anyone’s game at that stage.

A turning point of the match arrived. Mehidy Hasan Miraz’s wicket maiden accounted for Asif to break the crucial stand worth 71 runs in 14.1 overs and he finished with 2-27 of his 10 overs.  Imam having anchored Pakistan’s innings fell in the next over for 83 - a patient knock in which he faced 105 balls with just 2 fours and a six. His dismissal really finished off any realistic chance of a victory as Bangladesh tightened its grip and did not get into their celebration before the final ball was delivered. Left-arm medium pace Mustafizur Rahman, is not going to forget this game in a hurry. He prized out Babar Azam and Sarfraz Ahmed in his opening spell and was on the money in the death overs. The last over of Pakistan’s innings was a maiden bowled by him and his figures of 4-43 was a just reward in earning his country a fully deserved 37-run victory.

What in heavens name has suddenly and somewhat ‘mysteriously’ gone wrong with the Pakistan side in its Asia Cup campaign in UAE, to underperform and look so ragged. Only a year after thrashing India in the 2017 Champions Trophy final in England and having fared and performed reasonably consistently afterwards, in white-ball cricket, around the world, its crunch match against Bangladesh today, will have an impact on its planning for the 2019 World Cup. The youth that had energized the squad with natural flair and exuberance has suddenly looked so flat and out of sorts in the key aspects of the game, more so evident in two crushing defeats against India, admittedly a more accomplished team.

In its third game of the Super Four, Pakistan faced Bangladesh, still with questions over its team combination and leadership. It was a must win game for both teams in order to face India in the final on Friday. The white balls have not swung – conventional or reverse - for Mohammad Amir or Hasan Ali and that reduces the wicket-taking ability, considerably. Is was about time they brought back Junaid Khan. Amongst the slow bowlers, neither Shadab Khan or Mohammad Nawaz, made their presence felt and skipper Sarfraz Ahmed could have done with the skilful Imad Wasim, slow left-arm spinner and lower order batsman, who is itching to comeback after an injury.

One must be reminded that prior to Imran Khan launching Abdul Qadir in the 1983 Prudential World Cup, wrist spin was considered a luxury and not suitable at all to limited-overs cricket, to a conservative mind. Wrist spin has played a crucial role in Pakistan’s cricket ever since with Qadir being followed by Mushtaq Ahmed, Shahid Afridi, Yasir Shah and now Shadab Khan, all aggressive in their approach. The class of 92 when the green shirts were crowned World Cup winners, still works as a successful template for Pakistan in the ODIs. Run-containing mind-set has never suited it as the aim has always been to stifle the opposition by taking wickets at the expense of leaking extra runs. Pace and wrist spin has combined to make Pakistan the most thrilling team in the world. Its match against Bangladesh was a real test for the team as it looked to recapture a winning sequence.

Pakistan - Fakhar Zaman, Imam ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed(c)(wk), Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Junaid Khan

Bangladesh- Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Mohammad Mithun, Mushfiqur Rahim(wk), Mominul Haque, Imrul Kayes, Mahmudullah, Mehedi Hasan, Mashrafe Mortaza(c), Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain

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