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The Report by Siddarth Ravindran
December 21, 2011
Pakistan 470 (Taufeeq 130, Misbah 70, Azhar 57, Akmal 53, Shakib 6-82) and 107 for 3 beat Bangladesh 338 (Shakib 144, Nafees 97) and 234 (Nasir 79, Mushfiqur 53, Rehman 4-51) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Pakistan capped off a fruitful year in cricket by completing a clean sweep against Bangladesh in Mirpur on a drama-filled day that showcased the unpredictability of Test cricket.
In the first session, Nasir Hossain and Mushfiqur Rahim batted sensibly, not especially worried about the runs which they were collecting, making the draw seem the likeliest result. In the second, a combination of kamikaze batting and smart spin bowling resulted in Bangladesh losing their final five wickets for 22 runs, leaving Pakistan the seemingly straightforward target of 103. It wasn't though, as Pakistan faced a race against the fading light in the final session, and needed some intrepid batting to secure the victory in the gloom.
There was a helping hand from the weather for Bangladesh early on, as the usual morning fog delayed the start by an hour and a half. Bangladesh's batting has posted 250 in both innings of a Test only four times in the past seven years, and as play began the worry was the home side would fold on a fifth-day track, particularly against Pakistan's versatile spin attack.
Those fears were quelled in the morning as Nasir went on to his maiden half-century while Mushfiqur made his second important contribution with the bat as the pair put on a century stand. After lunch, though, Abdur Rehman and Saeed Ajmal bamboozled the lower order to revive fading Pakistan hopes of a victory.
It was Rehman who did the major damage after the interval. Nasir was hoodwinked by a straighter delivery that beat the bat and crashed into the stumps to end the partnership at 117. Bangladesh still had plenty of reasons to hope: the lead was already 80, Mushfiqur was set and nearing his half-century, the new batsman Elias Sunny had a first-class high score of 176, and the light usually fades well before the scheduled close of play.
Those hopes pretty much evaporated after a wild stroke from Mushfiqur, who charged out and looked to send a Rehman delivery out of the ground, only managing to top edge it towards mid-off. How Mushfiqur can lecture his team-mates about batting responsibly after this shot remains to be seen.
Bangladesh's slide continued thanks to a moment of magic from Younis Khan at slip, which seemed even more spectacular given the number of simple chances that have been put down in the match. It extended Shahadat Hossain's forgettable Test as he attempted a reckless swipe across the line, getting a thick edge which was seemingly flying well wide of first slip. Younis, though, threw himself to his right goalkeeper-style to snaffle it one-handed. Saeed Ajmal then captured the final two victims to take his tally for the year to 50.
In contrast to the helter-skelter batting after lunch, Nasir and Mushfiqur had been level-headed in seeing off the bowling in the morning. Chances fell short, flew wide and soared over slip but Pakistan were unable to make the breakthrough, as both batsmen also played some powerful shots behind point. In the fourth over of the day, Nasir edged an attempted drive just past second slip, but that didn't stop him from a vigorous upper cut over gully for four off the next delivery.
Once the fast bowlers were seen off, Ajmal and Rehman dried up the runs with an accurate spell of bowling. A five-over stretch that yielded only one run was finally snapped by the inevitable big stroke, but Nasir managed to swat it wide of the diving midwicket fielder to pick up a boundary.
Both Nasir and Mushfiqur showed a defensive technique that was mostly watertight, and Pakistan had to turn to their secondary spinners, Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali. A whip to midwicket for four off Ali brought up the hundred stand five minutes before lunch, and Bangladesh were looking forward to escaping with a draw before a depressingly familiar collapse followed.
In this Test, Shakib Al Hasan already had the highest score and the best bowling figures by a Bangladeshi against Pakistan, but he could still have made his most important contribution during the chase. It was getting murky early in the afternoon, and the floodlights were on as early as 3pm - a series of tight overs could have been enough to conjure a face-saving draw. He bowled through the innings but it was a task too tough even for him.
Pakistan had a stretch of 24 dot balls early on, and Taufeeq Umar was dismissed cheaply, but Mohammad Hafeez then took over, expertly pulling the barrage of short balls from the medium-pacers. With Azhar Ali working the singles, Pakistan galloped towards victory even as the light faded. Both Hafeez and Azhar were dismissed with the win in sight, but that only brought in the senior batsmen, Man-of-the-Series Younis Khan and captain Misbah-ul-Haq, who stylishly completed the victory with a six over long-off.
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