Pakistan survive Bangladesh scare; win by 21 runs
Mirpur (Bangladesh): Pakistan survived a scare before pulling off a nervy 21-run victory over a spirited Bangladesh in the thrilling opening cricket match of Asia Cup tournament on Sunday.
Chasing 263 to win, Bangladesh were reeling at 135 for five at one stage but Shakib Al Hasan (64) and Nasir Hossain (47) raised the hopes of a stunning win with their 89-run stand for the sixth wicket.
However, the hosts lacked the batting firepower in the end to be all out for 241 in 48.1 overs at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium.
Nevertheless, the hosts gave a good account of themselves and served a warning to other teams that they cannot be taken lightly in the tournament.
Shakib and Nasir were going great guns as the team needed 68 off the last 10 overs but Pakistan paceman Umar Gul (3/58) broke the partnership by bowling Nasir in the 44th over after conceding two consecutive boundaries.
Shakib was still fighting from one end but ran short of partners. Shakib was the last man out, bowled by Gul in the first ball of the 49th over.
Pakistan scored 262 for eight after Mohammed Hafeez top-scored with a patient 89 and shared a 135-run stand with fellow opener Nasir Jamshed (54).
Apart from Hafeez and Jamshed's brilliant batting it was Gul's strokeful unbeaten 39 towards the end that lifted Pakistan to a respectable total.
Shahdat Hossain (3/53) and Shakib Al Hasan (2/41) shared five wickets between them to help Bangladesh restrict Pakistani players, who were scoring briskly till the 30 overs.
Pakistan rode on spin trio of Hafeez (2/40), Saeed Ajmal (2/45) and Shahid Afridi's (2/49) brilliant bowling to open their campaign with a win.
Bangladesh's chase was guided by opener Tamim Iqbal's crafty 64 but the hosts could not make the best use of his innings. Iqbal along with opener Nazimuddin (30) and Jahurul Islam (23) shared two 45-run stands each for the first and second wickets.
Hafeez struck twice in two balls in the 29th over as he bowled Iqbal in the third ball and trapped Mahmudullah in the next to reduce Bangladesh to 135 for five.
Shakib then joined hands with Nasir to take the fight to Pakistan. They made good use of third powerplay to set the tone for a close finish.
Earlier, Hafeez and Jamshed had laid the foundation by putting on 135 runs for the first wicket in just 28 overs but Shahdat Hossain (3/53) and Shakib Al Hasan (2/41) struck at crucial moments to help the hosts fight back into the match.
But Gul, somewhat, spoilt Bangladesh's plans with a brisk 39 off 25 balls.
Hoping that the pitch at the Shere Bangla National Stadium would offer some assistance to his seamers early on, Bangladesh skipper Mushfiqur Rahim elected to field after the coin landed in his favour.
Things, however, didn't pan out the way Mushfiqur had hoped for as the two openers gave Pakistan a perfect launchpad. Both were not flashy but effective nevertheless.
Jamshed was the more aggressive of the two as he found the fence five times, besides hitting a six. Hafeez was content to rotate the strike while hitting the occasional boundaries.
Bangladesh then made a spirited fightback and the breakthrough they needed, came in the form of Jamshed's wicket in the 28th over, when Mushfiqur ran the batsman out after receiving a throw from Shakib.
Living up to the tag of being an unpredictable side, Pakistan suffered a collapse and, from 160 for two in the 33rd over, they were struggling at 198 for seven.
Even as the middle-order, which has the experienced Younis Khan and the talented Umar Akmal, failed miserably, Gul provided the much-needed thrust down the order to help Pakistan post a challenging total.
Gul, who struck five fours and a six, found an ally in Sarfraz Ahmed (19 off 28), and the two added 53 crucial runs for the eighth wicket.