Dhaka: Pakistan defeated Bangladesh by 21 runs in a nerve-wracking contest. Thanks to the all-round performances of Mohammad Hafeez & Umar Gul.
Umar Gul celebrates Nasir Hossain's wicket as Shakib Al Hasan watches, Bangladesh v Pakistan, Asia Cup, Mirpur, March 11, 2012 © Associated Press
Mushfiqur Rahim, captain of Bangladesh won the toss & decided to field first, it was a surprising decision for all cricket experts, even the captain of opposite side Misbah-ul-Haq was looking to bat first.
Mohammad Hafeez & Nasir Jamshed started watchfully but provided a good platform for the middle-order to stretch the innings.
Both openers added 135 runs together, Nasir who was making his comeback got run-out because of miscommunication with his partner, he played a handy knock of 54 runs (64 balls faced, hit 5 FOURs & 1 SIX).
Younis Khan didn’t trouble the score much as he caught out at 12. Junior Akmal tried to rebuild the innings but then Shahadat Hossain undone Mohammad Hafeez with a short ball who batted beautifully & scored 89 runs (126 balls faced, hit 7 FOURS).
Asad (4) was the next one to go, he also got out in the same M. Hafeez’s fashion. Umar Akmal, once again played a wrong shot just when he was looking settled, he went for 21.
Bangladesh received a huge bonus when BOOM BOOM Afridi (0) played the first ball he faced back to Shakib Al Hasan, it bounced of bowler’s hand, then hit on his left hand which went up on the right side where other batsman Misbah-ul-Haq was standing, the ball hit the grills of the helmet of Misbah and Shakib because of this favour completed a good catch. It was unlucky for Shahid Afridi who was just 1 run away from 7,000 ODI run-mark.
This wasn’t the end of the mystery, it continued as left-arm spinner Abdur Razzaq bowled Pakistani skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (8) with an arm ball.
Pakistan which was 135/1 fell brutally to 198/7. Sarfraz Ahmed & Umar Gul gave some stance to the Pakistani innings by adding 53 runs off 46 balls. Umar Gul fired with the bat as he scored 39 off 25 balls by hitting 5 FOURS & 1 SIX. Sarfraz Ahmed & Saeed Ajmal remained not-out at 19 & 8 respectively.
Pakistan closed their innings at 262/8 which was indeed a reasonable total on the batting track which was a bit slow. Bangladeshi bowlers bowled good, Shahdat Hossain was a bit expensive as he gave 53 runs in 8.0 overs but took 3 vital wickets, Shakib Al Hasan took 2 wickets, Abdur Razzaq & Mashrafe Mortaza took 1, 1 wicket.
Tamim Iqbal & Nazimuddin opened innings for the Bengali tigers. Both provided a steady start to their team, Nazimuddin (30) was the first one to go, he was undone by a short ball of Cheema & was caught at 3rd man position by Umar Gul.
Tamim was looking out of colour as he was blocking balls instead of playing big shots, Jahurul Islam looked aggressive and several time came down the pitch to hit Afridi out of the park but failed many times because of the experience of BOOM BOOM.
Afridi in the 21st over clean bowled Jahurul at the score of 23. In his next over, Afridi again clean bowled Bengali batsman but this time it was Bangladeshi captain Mushfiqur Rahim (3).
Home fans were disappointed to see the back of their captain, after adding 23 runs with Shakib, Tamim (64) became victim of Mohammad Hafeez who was testing him from the start of the innings. Mahmudullah followed him back to the pavilion as he got lbw out to M. Hafeez.
5-135 was the score of Bangladesh. This situation silenced the crowd but their star hitters Shakib Al Hasan & Nasir Hossain brought them back alive by playing some fabulous cricket.
Both irritated Pakistani bowlers and fielders, the game was just slipping off their hands until the guldozer – Umar Gul came back with extra-ordinary stunts. He broke the partnership by taking the golden wicket of flyer Nasir Hossain who was on 47 (49 balls faced , hit 3 FOURS & 1 SIX).
Then Saeed Ajmal came with a bang to take two wickets in an over; 1st clean bowled Abdur Razzaq with his off-spinner & then Mashrafe Mortaza with his doosra.
All these events stunned the crowd, in the next over, Gul came back & cleaned Shafiul Islam, Bangladesh was now down to 9 wickets for 235 & still 28 runs were required off 24 balls, the target was indeed chasable but only 1 wicket was in their hand.
Shakib at the other end was stranded and in the next over tried to take pressure off his team by hitting a FOUR to Saeed Ajmal. But after that shot, it went all in favour of Pakistani bowlers, first Ajmal & then Cheema bowled on pretty good line & length which took the game way away of Bangladesh.
The required run-rate went very high as 11 R.P.O were required & 2 overs were in the bucket. Mr. Gulli came back with superb ball which pitched in good length area, Shakib swung his bat hard but missed the ball and got clean bowled. Credit goes to Shakib Al Hasan who tried his best and gave his heart to Bangladeshi crowd & team’s effort, he scored 64 runs off 66 balls & hit 4 FOURS.
That was the end of the Bangladeshi innings, they fell apart down to 241 in 48.1 overs. Pakistani bowlers once again snatched victory from the opposition, the leader of the attack – Umar Gul took 3 wickets for 58 runs in 9.1 overs, a bit expensive but he will not mind, Mohammad Hafeez took 2 wickets for 40, Saeed Ajmal took 2 wickets for 45 runs, Shahid Afridi took 2 wickets for 49 runs & Aizaz Cheema took 1 for 47 in 9 overs.
A pretty good start for Pakistan, under new head coach Dav Whatmore, they’ll be looking forward to improve their batting which cost them many matches. Bangladesh was pretty close to win the game but they missed the trick to hold their nerves, they were outstanding in the fielding, ex-Pakistani cricketer who is now a commentator Ramiz Raja said that “Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) really helped Bangladeshi players to keep fit & tight in the field.”
This is Pakistan’s 23rd consecutive win against Bangladesh in ODI’s. Pakistan so far has played 30 ODI’s against Bangladesh, won 29 and lost just 1 (in ICC World Cup 1999 on 31st of May at Northampton – England when Bangladesh set target of 224 & Pakistan got out at 161).
The 2nd match of ACC Asia Cup 2012 will be played between India & Sri Lanka on March 13, 2012 here in Dhaka.
Result: Pakistan won by 21 runs.
Man Of The Match: Mohammad Hafeez (Pakistan).