Pakistan coast to facile win
Pakistan 167 for 4 beat Bangladesh 166 (Mashud 54) by 6 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
In a match of no real consequence Pakistan brushed aside Bangladesh to end their Asia Cup with a 4-1 win-loss record. This is small consolation for Inzamam-ul-Haq, and Bob Woolmer, the new coach, as Pakistan failed to reach the final, which India and Sri Lanka will contest on Sunday. Habibul Bashar got things right as far as winning the toss, but his team were no match even for a wayward and expensive Pakistan bowling line-up, as they were shot out for 166. At 42 for 5, even 100 looked a fair bit away, and if it hadn't been for Khaled Mashud and extras - of which there were 37 - they might have been severely embarrassed. In the event, Pakistan comfortably settled the matter in 41 overs, with six wickets in hand.
The predominantly empty stands yawning back at the players could have done little to gee up the players in the final round-robin match of the Asia Cup. Bangladesh had everything to play for, as they do in every game, irrespective of their standing in a tournament, but the match as a contest ended so early on that there was little to do but wait for the end.
Yasir Hameed and Imran Nazir began watchfully, and with the white ball swinging just a bit under the lights they needed to do so. The small target of 167 afforded them the opportunity to spend some time out in the middle and help themselves to some pressure-free runs. They both failed to do this, as Hameed flashed Tapash Baisya to Manjural Islam Rana in the slip cordon (35 for 1) then Imran chipped Tareq Aziz to Faisal Hossain at square leg after making 27 (52 for 2).
Yousuf Youhana, a good man to have in your batting line-up under any circumstances, chipped in with an easy 39, hardly breaking into a sweat. Shoaib Malik kept up his fine form in this tournament, scoring 48 to take his tournament tally past 300 runs, before being bowled through the gate by a straight one from Abdur Razzaq (118 for 3). In the end, though, it didn't matter, as Bangladesh simply did not put enough runs on the board when it was their turn to bat.
Mohammad Ashraful, one of Bangladesh's big batting hopes, set the tone for the innings by being trapped in front by a Mohammad Sami inducker off just the fifth ball. The scoreboard hadn't moved yet, and Sami looked poised to grab a bagful.
But any poise Sami exhibited during his first over disappeared as he proceeded to bowl with all the control of a novice driver on a frost-slicked road. He skidded, sprayed and slipped his way through a 17-ball over that read Y-4-2-nb-Y-nb1-0-Y-Y-0-Y-nb-Y-Y-nb-0-4. Seven wides, four no-balls, ten runs off the bat, and suddenly Bangladesh were away. Before this match started Pakistan's bowlers probably harboured hopes of entering the record books with a barnstorming performance, but no-one would have imagined it was for bowling the longest over.
After that eventful over Shabbir Ahmed, who shared the new ball with Sami, picked up his first wicket when Habibul walked across his stumps and was rapped on the pad (32 for 2). Alok Kapali's idea of hitting his way out of a slump was not the worst, but the execution left much to be desired. He reached out for a delivery well outside the off stump, and despite not being to the pitch of the ball played an expansive drive. The thick edge flew straight to the safe hands of Younis Khan at a wide second slip (41 for 3), as Shoaib Akhtar became the third paceman to pick up a wicket.
Shabbir then made the best of the situation, snapping up two wickets with the score at 42. Faisal Hossain became the third batsman to fall lbw, and Manjural was caught behind, both for ducks, and Bangladesh were tottering at 42 for 5.
Rajin Saleh, who toughed it out when others around him succumbed, stayed at the crease 48 balls for his 23 runs, but could not resist pushing at a ball from Abdul Razzaq. It's never a good idea to play hesitantly at a ball that is just outside the off stump, and in this case, with the slightest hint of away movement, it was fatal. Younis snapped up his second catch of the day, only inches from the ground, and Bangladesh were 75 for 6.
That Bangladesh made it to 166 from this stage was thanks only to the sensible batting of Mashud. He did all the hard work initially, prodding, defending and blocking when wickets fell about him. There was no swish, and certainly no aggression on his part until he had well and truly got his eye in. And, timed perfectly with Pakistan's bowlers going off the boil, Mashud survived 94 balls for his 54 runs, and was the last man out. The five fours he crunched towards the end of his innings ensured that Bangladesh did not succumb without a fight. However, for now, at international level, even with Dav Whatmore's best efforts, Bangladesh still have to be content with just putting up a big fight.
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo.