Bangladesh v Pakistan, Asia Cup, Mirpur March 11, 2012

Gul heroics edge Shakib's in thriller

Pakistan 262 for 8 (Hafeez 89, Jamshed 54, Gul 39, Shahadat 3-53) beat Bangladesh 241 (Shakib 64, Tamim 64, Gul 3-58) by 21 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Pakistan built, nearly self-destructed and counterattacked with the bat. Bangladesh built, nearly self-destructed and counterattacked with the bat. Pakistan's base was strong enough to weather the near-self-destruction. Their counterattack proved sharper in the end as they stopped hosts Bangladesh short of what would have been their highest successful chase at home.

Bangladesh produced most of the unexpected passages in the game. They reduced Pakistan to 198 for 7 from 135 for 0. They recovered from 135 for 5 to become the favourites towards the closing stages of the game. But when it came to the critical moments which decided the match, Pakistan proved superior.

Umar Gul smashed his highest ODI score of 39 from 25 deliveries to convert 198 for 7 into 262 for 8. With Bangladesh requiring 39 off 40 with five wickets in hand, Gul and Saeed Ajmal took 5 for 17 between them to ensure that Shakib Al Hasan's heroic innings ended in frustration and disappointment.

Shakib had induced the Pakistan batting collapse, along with Shahadat Hossain. Like a fighter who has resolutely accepted the fact that he will always have to battle more than his fellow soldiers, he brought his side back into contention after they threatened to implode in the chase.

Young Nasir Hossain matched his former captain stroke for stroke in an 89-run sixth-wicket partnership at a run a ball. Shakib drove, Nasir pulled, Shakib slashed, Nasir pulled harder, and Bangladesh hoped.

When Nasir took consecutive fours off Gul in the 44th over, Bangladesh seemed to have moved decisively in front. Gul is made of sterner stuff, though. He found nip off the pitch and movement in the air with a 21-over old ball and bowled Nasir for 47. Ajmal, who had gone for 11 in the previous over, stepped in now.

With the asking-rate under six, Abdur Razzak decided to slog at a full delivery only to get bowled. Mashrafe Mortaza saw the flight but did not read the doosra. Bowled again. Shafiul Islam had two deliveries to keep out in the next over, the 46th. Gul hurled in the inswinging yorker first up. Gone leg-before.

A shocked Shakib steadied himself and squeezed the first ball of the next over, bowled by Ajmal, for four past point. With last man Shahadat at the other end, Shakib was forced to play out most of the over to keep strike for the 48th.

He tried to take two off the the first ball of the 48th but managed one. Shahadat blocked out the next five. The equation had rocketed to 22 off 12 by now. Shakib had no choice. He tried to slog Gul but only managed to play on. Game over.

Gul had earlier rescued Pakistan with the bat after they lost 7 for 63. He showed that his ODI batting average of 9.28 did not reflect his flicking and pulling capabilities. He savaged Mortaza for 16 runs in the 49th over, hitting the bowler for three consecutive boundaries in his lone counterattack.

Pakistan's innings could be summed up as accumulation, panic and aggression. After Mohammad Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed put on 135, Shahadat and Shakib brought Bangladesh back with a flurry of wickets before Gul hit back.

Pakistan would have never thought that they would need Gul to bail them out after the start given by Hafeez and Jamshed. Hafeez put his lean run against England behind him with a patient knock - his first fifty in ODIs in four months - and along with his latest opening partner, Jamshed, gave Pakistan a strong start to their Asia Cup campaign. Jamshed justified his selection ahead of Azhar Ali with a busy innings that afforded Hafeez the space to overcome his scratchy beginning. Shakib apart, Bangladesh's attack was steady at best and allowed Hafeez to work himself into some form.

As Hafeez and Jamshed brought up their fifties, Bangladesh's decision to bowl on the flat pitch seemed set to hurt them further, until Jamshed's slow response to a call for a single gave them an opening. Bangladesh barged into it whole-heartedly as Pakistan's batting crumbled without warning or justification.

Younis Khan succumbed to a leading edge off Shahadat after playing his flick early. Shahadat, who had been average till then, immediately found some menace and produced two sharp bouncers to lure Hafeez and Asad Shafiq into fatal pulls.

Umar Akmal, never one to change his hit-everything style, slog swept his wicket away to Shakib, who was to get more reward for being the bowler who troubled Pakistan the most. Shahid Afridi did not get the time to display his brand of hit-everything, as he bunted a return catch to Shakib first ball.

Drama has a way of somehow squeezing itself into everything Afridi is involved in. Shakib fumbled the catch on the first attempt, prevented the ball from touching the ground on the second, lobbed it up into Misbah-ul-Haq's helmet and still had enough balance left to take the rebound on the third attempt. Misbah himself did not get the opportunity to use his crisis-recovery skills as he was soon bowled through the gate. Bangladesh were on top at that stage but would not have accounted for Gul the batsman.

Afridi had lasted one delivery with the bat but struck in successive overs to leave the new cautious avatar of Tamim Iqbal and the Bangladesh middle order with a climbing asking-rate. The hosts' chase was on course at 90 for 1 in the 21st over when Afridi bowled Jahurul Islam and Mushfiqur Rahim in the space of five deliveries. Till Afridi's strikes, Bangladesh had gone about the chase with unusual calm. With Tamim clearly looking to anchor the innings, Nazimuddin and Jahurul did the attacking.

Both batsmen were well-set when they gave away their wickets. Nazimuddin slashed a wide delivery to third man while Jahurul was bowled as he missed a slog off a flighted Afridi delivery. Afridi dealt a bigger blow to Bangladesh when he bowled Rahim who tried to cut his faster one.

At the other end, Tamim went on accumulating serenely, finding the boundary every now and then to keep the required-rate in check. He got to his fifty off his 75th delivery, but Hafeez further dented Bangladesh with a double strike. Tamim dinked an innocuous delivery onto his stumps, and Mahmudullah was adjudged leg-before first ball, though replays showed the ball would have missed leg stump.

At 135 for 5, Bangladesh were staring at a familiar ending, but Shakib was determined to swim against the tide. His misfortune was that, in the end, he was the only one with that resolve.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo