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

Individuals shine in tournament opener

The opening day of Asia Cup's 12th edition in fact remained as exciting as the corresponding game from 2010, when a scintillating Shahid Afridi century almost overturned the hosts Sri Lanka

Three men made very different comebacks and another issued a scathing response on a day when two excellent allrounders and a potential allrounder kept everyone on their toes.

It was that sort of a day in Mirpur. Mashrafe Mortaza returned to international cricket after almost a year while Shahadat Hossain and Nasir Jamshed were playing ODIs after two and three years respectively. Tamim Iqbal made a statement with his bat and Shakib Al Hasan, Mohammad Hafeez and Umar Gul manoeuvered the tail end of the match to a finale that did justice to the entire game, much like what had happened in Dambulla two years ago.

The opening day of the Asia Cup's latest edition in fact remained as exciting as the corresponding game from 2010, when a scintillating Shahid Afridi century almost overturned the hosts Sri Lanka.

Afridi though had nothing to do with the bat on Sunday while his bowling became less of a mystery to the Bangladeshi batsmen. Hafeez however remained a tough proposition with the ball, despite Nazimuddin and Tamim handling him confidently in the early stages. The man known to his team-mates as the "professor" came back for a third spell to remove the left-handed opener Tamim and Mahmudullah off successive deliveries. Though the latter can count himself unlucky as the ball appeared to be going down the leg side as the television replays suggested, Tamim's dismissal was vital.

The delivery was the sort of a slider that Hafeez often bowls to left-handers while coming from round the wicket. This one appeared to be dipping less but Tamim under-edged his attempted dab onto the boot and it ricocheted onto the stumps.

But before his innings ended on 64 off 89 balls, the Chittagong batsman played a measured knock that immensely helped him make a point. As he reached the half-century off 75 balls, Tamim pointed towards to someone in particular towards the dressing-room as an acknowledgement. The celebration was of relief as it brought him a 50-plus score in ODIs after seven months, but more importantly it silences some of his critics for the time being.

After Tamim and Mahmudullah exited, it was once again down to Shakib, the man who has routinely stood firm in adversities. He is one of the very few middle-order batsmen in this team who understands the importance of the single. He doesn't only rely on them, he uses it as his strength to move the fielders around to his liking.

With Nasir Hossain for company, a crisis man at the tender age of 21, the pair added 89 for the sixth wicket in 14.5 overs, keeping Bangladesh within striking distance. But that hope was ended by Gul, whose accuracy makes him Misbah-Ul-Haq's most reliable weapon at the death. After Nasir had struck him for two successive boundaries to reduce the margin to 39 runs, the next ball was a straight one that found the batsman leaving a slight gap where it matters; lazy footwork for one but finding that little breach takes a lot of skill.

Gul's batting too was vitally important at the stage he came in. As Misbah left on 198 for 7, Pakistan were in danger of getting bowled out for less than 220, but the fast bowler forged a feisty stand with Sarfraz Ahmed. Gul was severe on Mortaza, hammering 16 off his final over to spoil the returning fast bowler's figures, which had promise to remain as miserly as his opening spell.

Jamshed and Hafeez hardly made a dash for the big shots as they built a steady partnership, which ended in the 28th over with Jamshed's run out. Shahadat too showed some verve and he was lucky too, picking up three wickets in his second spell. Hafeez, who batted so correctly to make 89, fell to a pull shot (as did Asad Shafiq) while Younis Khan skied a ball that he had readied himself to hit towards midwicket. After Shahadat's strikes, Shakib was on a hat-trick by removing a careless Umar Akmal and by his presence of mind when Afridi chipped one back at him.

Shakib's successful juggling act, aided somewhat by Misbah's helmet at the other end, should have been the turning point from where Bangladesh should have pressed their authority. Instead, it was probably Nasir's dismissal that took the game away from the home side.

Hafeez and Shakib ultimately held a showdown of a potential rivalry while Mashrafe, Tamim, Shahadat and Jamshed chose the occasion to justify their inclusion. One of them got to prove a board president wrong.

Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • zulfiquar on March 13, 2012, 16:38 GMT

    Proving the Point to the Board President left a proof-point to Pakistan on the balance - on the short end.

  • Dummy4 on March 13, 2012, 16:16 GMT

    Bangladesh Cricket board are lame, Should be putting Nasir Hossain more up the order. Period......

  • Dummy4 on March 13, 2012, 6:48 GMT


  • saumitra on March 13, 2012, 5:45 GMT

    @AndyZaltzmannsHair: I am talking the head to head result of IND SL in CB series, IND won that 2-1 despite having a team which was not in form, especially the one in which IND chased the total in 36.4 overs was hilarious. SL will have a real tough time against IND here. The 2-1 thrashing and virat's incriminating presence will play pn their minds. IND lead SL 70-51 overall in ODI's, any which way you look at it, its advantage IND

  • Ijaz on March 13, 2012, 3:10 GMT

    India will be thrashed in the 1st round of CWC in 2015.....they play poorer than zimbabwe out of sub continent....once in a while they win a game in between and they celebrate if for they are doing now with SL victory in hobart.... people had forgot the thrashing they got in that australian

  • Ryo on March 12, 2012, 20:33 GMT

    @missionbegins. Exactly what 2-1 clobbering are you on about. India got knockef out thats all that matters. Or are you so desperate thesr days that you will cheer even the smallest of victories.

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2012, 17:06 GMT

    Pakistan, even in their wildest dreams, can't win this tournament. There is no way that this team can beat India and SL. I personally hope that SL win because of their recent improvements and hard work in the field. They have come a long way since their consecutive failures last year. What I really liked about this ODI was that there was fight till the end. BD put up a great fight and I enjoyed this game of cricket. It was much better than watching Pakistan lose against England because you could see the body language of the players since the beginning of the match and it was obvious that they did not look like a winning bunch. Oh, once again, Hafeez scores runs agains Bangladesh. Let's see how he does against India or SL. Horrible opener. Afridi STILL 1 run short of 7000 runs ROFL. What a joke. What's worse is that Umar Gull scores more runs than all the milddle order specialist batsmen. Then Pakistan fans question why we lost WC Semi. Blame 1 for failure of 11 shall we?

  • Zee on March 12, 2012, 16:56 GMT

    @ Ifty Khan. It does not matter how may runs scored or wickets taken, only how many taken per innings. Afridi has scored those runs and gotten wickets by playing a zillion ODIs. His average is less than ordinary. Quoting the fastest century or 5 wicket hauls again mean little if you fail 9 times out of 10 matches, which he does. I am tired to hearing my fellow Paks quoting Afridi total runs and wickets while ignoring his averages. He had multiple chances to help Pakistan win in the recent England series and failed each time. So where is the greatness, with below 23 runs and 1 wicket per ODI average?

  • Javed on March 12, 2012, 16:33 GMT

    Bangladesh team needs another top order or middle order specialist batsman. I don't understand why Bangladesh Team selectors always look for an all rounder. Mahmudullah must be dropped from the squad. He is an average all rounder, BD team can't afford an average all rounder any more. Instead of Mahmudullah they should give chance to another specialist Batsman. You can't play with only 3 specialist Batsman on side (Tamim, Nazimuddin,Zaharul). BD team needs two changes in next match. Razzak and Mahmudullah should be dropped. Sunny and Anamul Haque/Kayes should be in.

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2012, 15:35 GMT


    Shakib performances comes on Bangladesh grounds only ..P.S international teams take easy while playing against Bang as a whole, which includes Shakib as an individual as well, while in case of Afridi ...they already knew how to bowl against him ...anyway he is good fine in Bangla team and your team needs at least 3-4 more like him to win matches else he will be a waste in 3-4 yrs time.

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