Monday, June 24, 2024

Tigers fall at the death again

It was another case of ‘so near yet so far’ for the Tigers as they failed to put an end to their long drought against Pakistan, going down by 21 runs after putting up a brave fight in the Asia Cup opener at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
It could so nearly have been be a story of ‘Mirpur after Northampton’ following superb batting from Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan and Nasir Hossain. But the Pakistani bowlers showed their character to survive from the jolt as Bangladesh crumbled to 241 in 48.1 overs in reply to Pakistan’s 262 for eight in front of a seven thousand strong crowd under lights.
After their famous 62 runs victory in the 1999 World Cup in Northampton, Bangladesh has hardly provided any fight against Pakistan in one-day competition but they tested the nerve of the former world champions last night even though they again failed to break the jinx.
Former Bangladesh captain Shakib was the last batsman out, bowled by Umar Gul, the right-arm paceman who brought back Pakistan into the game by removing Nasir Hossain who had associated a brilliant 89-run sixth wicket partnership with Shakib.
Bangladesh required another 38 runs from 39 balls when Nasir was bowled for 47 off 49 balls with three fours and a huge six against Saeed Ajmal over deep midwicket. But spinner Abdur Razzak made a big mistake trying to charge Ajmal who also dismissed Mashrafe Bin Mortaza in the same over after the returning paceman also went for a similarly foolish shot.
Shakib had been left helpless without any support from the tail but the left-hander once again showed his steely character during his splendid knock of 64 that came from 66 balls with four boundaries.
Earlier Tamim Iqbal, who was included in the squad after much drama, following BCB president AHM Mustafa Kamal’s interference in the team selection, gave the critics a perfect answer as the left-hander hit 64 off 80 balls with six boundaries and one six.
The Pakistan innings was built around a 135-run opening partnership between Mohammad Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed. The partnership was broken when the latter fell victim to a run out for a 64-ball 54 that contained five fours and a six.
At 160 for 1, Pakistan was in a strong position to cross the 300 mark but Shahadat Hossain, returning to one-day cricket after a two year break, picked up three quick wickets and Shakib struck twice in the same over to dash their hopes.
Gul and Sarfraz Ahmed, however, rescued Pakistan and helped them put up a challenging total on the board. Pakistan had much to thank Gul for taking the score to the 250-plus mark. A leg-cutter from Mashrafe Bin Mortaza castled the Pakistani paceman, but not before he had taken full toll with one six and two fours. Gul smashed a total of five fours and a six during his cameo 25-ball 39.
On the other hand, Hafeez missed his well-deserved hundred when the right-hander got a top edge from a short ball from pacer Shahadat Hossain to find the safe hands of Shafiul Islam at square leg for 89 from 126 balls with the help of seven sweetly-timed boundaries.
The match was also marked by a peculiar catch from Shakib who missed the return catch of Shahid Afridi on the first attempt and got a hand to it just as it was dying down on the second; he palmed it towards Misbah where the ball ricocheted off the Pakistan captain’s helmet and landed safely in Shakib’s hand on the third attempt.
It was a big wicket for Bangladesh as it allowed them to restrict Pakistan to an achievable 262 but in the end it was still a few runs too much as Pakistan continued their success against the hosts.

-With The Daily Star input

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