Bangladesh’s batting frailties were exposed against a sublime bowling attack as Pakistan’s tour got off to a flying start with a comfortable 50-run victory in the one-off T20 International at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
The home side’s spinners, led by Shakib Al Hasan, did an excellent job to create a chance as Pakistan made their lowest total of 135 for seven against Bangladesh in 20 overs after deciding to bat. In the end, however, it proved to be just as a happy prelude for the Tigers as the batsmen squandered the opportunity in the second session, albeit on a pitch not ideal for the shortest format.
An unbeaten 35-run knock, which was also the highest score in the match, from Nasir Hossan helped the home team avoid the embarrassment of recording their lowest total in the shortest version of the game as they batted out their quota to reach 85 for the loss of 9 wickets.
There had been a lot of buzz in and around the stadium from the cricket-crazy public, but there was no fire in the middle which could warm them on the chilly night; instead, the hapless batting from the local boys brought only frustration.
It was not as if the Bangladesh batsmen fell trying for something big; they had no answer against the Pakistani bowlers and, though it may be too early to say, the indication was there even in the shortest form of the game that the big challenge ahead for the Bangladesh batsmen will test their skills to the limit.
At the halfway stage, most supporters were in a mood to recall the sweet memory of the Tigers’ success in the previous series opening T20 match against the West Indies in October, when the home side restricted the visitors to 135 and chased successfully, but hopes were dashed soon after Bangladesh started their innings on a lively track where the bowlers were assisted by the turn and bounce on offer.
In the absence of Tamim Iqbal,Naeem Islam opened the innings with Imrul Kayes, but the right-hander was trapped in front by Umar Gul in the second over. Bangladesh were soon reduced to 23 for five in 8.1 overs, and the writing on the wall was fairly clear by then. Spinner Mohammad Hafeez, who was adjudged man-of-the-match, inflicted much of the damage on the top order, removing Alok Kapali (0) and former skipper Shakib Al Hasan (7). From the very beginning the out-of-form Imrul struggled and ultimately fell victim to a run-out. Skipper Mushfiqur Rahim faced the same fate, being the sixth to fall with the score on 39.
Only three fours and one six, which was pulled by Nasir off Saeed Ajmal into the crowd behind deep midwicket in the last over, featured in the Bangladesh innings; definitely not a perfect scenario for the T20 fans who had to wait till the fourth ball of the ninth over for the first boundary.
Earlier Shakib and Kapali bowled brilliantly during their economical spell to make sure that there would be no fireworks from the Pakistan side. Left-arm spinner Shakib removed both the openers, Hafeez (25) and Imran Farhat (16), while Kapali dismissed Umar Akmal (20) and danger man Shahid Afridi (8).
The two bowlers got good support from Abdur Razzak and Nasir Hossain but didn’t get the support from the batsmen.
-With The Daily Star input