Pakistan hangs on after Tigers fight back
Defending Twenty20 World Cup champions Pakistan got their title defence off to a good start by beating Bangladesh by 21 runs despite a spirited fight back from the Tigers which threatened to spoil the champs day.
Chasing a total of 173 Bangladesh got off to the worst possible start losing Imrul Kayes in the first over after he was caught by Misbah-ul-Haq to give Mohammad Aamer the early breakthrough.
Big hitting danger man Tamim Iqbal (19) soon followed to leave the Tigers in trouble with the score 31-2 after 5.3 overs.
Despite the loss of two early wickets Bangladesh didn’t panic, Mohammad Ashraful and Shakib Al Hasan took their time to slowly build a partnership which would bring the Tigers back onto the game.
After a slow steady start the pair started to attack the Pakistan bowlers and their 50 run partnership came up at the end of the 11th over from just 31 balls as the pressure was starting to get to the Pakistan players.
The pair was riding their luck somewhat as the innings went on with more and more shots landing safely between fielders as the pressure mounted on the defending champions.
Ashraful reached his half century at the start of the 12th over with the Tigers needing another 74 runs from 40 balls, Mohammad Hafeez conceded 15 more runs from the next 5 balls as the Tigers slowly fought their way back into the game.
Shahid Afridi struck back in the next over conceding just 6 runs before Mohammad Sami made the big break through to dismiss a visibly tiring Shakib Al Hasan for 47. Four balls later Mahmudullah (0) followed his skipper back to the dugout as Pakistan made the big breakthrough they desired.
With 4 overs remaining Bangladesh still needed another 50 runs but with Ashraful still at the crease the Tigers still had a chance. The batsman responded to the growing pressure by dispatching Afridi for a six at the start of the 16th over.
His luck finally ran out an over later when he was caught by wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal to end a brilliant innings of 65. The Tigers now had a mountain to climb needing another 32 runs from just 12 balls
With the pressure off Pakistan the defending champs rounded things of by conceding just 11 more runs to record a 21 run victory to get their title defense off to a perfect start.
Having won the toss Pakistan got off to a steady start, taking no risks Butt and Akmal slowly built the foundations of a big first wicket partnership.
They were helped by some poor fielding from the Tigers along the way; Mohammad Ashraful was guilty of the biggest let off dropping Akmal in the third over when the opener had only scored 13.
On a slow turning wicket Butt and Akmal stayed patient taking singles, two’s and the occasional boundary as Bangladesh took all off the pace off the ball.
The pair both recorded half centuries as the partnership passed 100 which gave the Pakistanis the perfect foundation to push the score towards 170 – 180. On a wicket considered favourable to the bowlers Butt and Akmal made batting look terribly easy.
With wickets in hand the pair started to attack the Bangladesh bowlers and the boundaries started to flow against a fielding team looking increasingly devoid of ideas.
The Tigers finally broke through in the 15th over after Akmal (73) mis-timed a cover drove which popped up in the air to Abdur Razzak at cover point giving Shakib Al Hasan the break through.
The loss of Akmal brought Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi to the crease but the big hitting all-rounder looked rusty and out of soughts having missed this months IPL tournament.
Afridi could only manage 9 runs before he was caught by Mahmudullah at third man to leave Pakistan 156-2 at the end of the 17th over.
Butt’s wonderful innings of 73 was ended 2 ball later when he was bowled by Shafiul Islam has Pakistan innings was starting to lose it’s momentum after such a good start.
Misbah-ul-Haq (8) and Abdul Razzaq (6) saw out the final 11 balls to help Pakistan reach 172-3 setting Bangladesh a big run chase.