Yousuf ton sets up thumping win
Bangladesh suffered one of their most embarassing defeats in one-dayers when they went down by 152 runs in the first match at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
A 145-run fourth-wicket partnership between Mohammad Yousuf and Shoaib Malik propelled Pakistan to an imposing 322 for 7 and set up the victory on a flat batting strip, before the seamers dented Bangladesh's reply. Two interruptions early in the chase - caused by floodlight failures - reduced the target to 282 from 39 overs and offered no respite as the innings folded up within 30 overs.
The experienced duo of Yousuf and Malik steadied the ship after the top order failed to capitalise in conditions tailor-made for batting, especially with the afternoon start negating effects of early swing. They took on Bangladesh's slow bowlers, who've earned a reputation for applying the stranglehold in the middle overs, and the stand came at over a run-a-ball - Malik contributed 85 and Yousuf carried on to an unbeaten 103-ball 108, his 15th ODI hundred.
The pair came together at 70 for 3 in the 18th over and took little time to settle down and push the scoring. The spinners were rendered impotent as the batting conditions eased out further through the evening - with no turn on offer, the pair picked off easy singles and never failed to put away the long-hops and half volleys.
Malik got his eye in quickly and peppered the offside boundary. A punch to long-off brought up his fifty, off just 45 balls, and the pair clocked 100 runs off only 92. Mohammad Ashraful and Aftab Ahmed were at the receiving end of the pounding early on and Malik adjusted well at the crease each time they varied the length of the ball. If it was full, it was creamed past the covers; if it was pitched fractionally short, it was slashed past backward point. Malik looked set for a century but perished after giving Shakib Al Hasan the charge, sending one down Shahriar Nafees' throat at long-off.
Yousuf initially played second fiddle to Malik and was more intent in rotating the strike. He then took Mahmudullah, the part-time offspinner, to the cleaners, sweeping with precision to the onside boundaries and even improvising with a reverse-sweep. Mahmudullah conceded 21 in one over, which included two consecutive sixes by Misbah-ul-Haq, and conceded a dubious 59 off five overs before he was finally pulled out.
Yousuf brought up his 15th ODI ton with a sweep to the deep on the onside and the team's 300 with a slash wide of backward point. Shahid Afridi added his fireworks in the end to push the score to 322.
Bangladesh's new opening pair of Shahriar Nafees and Tamim Iqbal failed to carry on their success in the recent series against Ireland when faced with a world class bowling attack. Umar Gul and Sohail Tanvir challenged the pair with bounce and exaggerated seam movement as the batting conditions appeared considerably difficult. Tamim was all at sea against Tanvir and was squared up by an inswinger which took the off stump.
Nafees then fell off an injudicious stroke off an equally poor delivery. Nailed to the crease, he flashed at a delivery so wide - even by Test match standards - and managed a thin edge to Kamran Akmal. Four overs later, Tanvir changed his line of attack to round the wicket and immediately got a wicket. Aftab Ahmed, who survived a nervous start charged down the track to launch him downtown, misread the shorter length and got a thick outside edge to Akmal. The lights went out at the end of the 12th over, forcing the players off the field and a second interruption, four balls into the next over didn't help Bangladesh's cause.
The situation deteriorated further when Rao Iftikhar Anjum struck twice in successive deliveries to send back Mohammad Ashraful and Shakib Al Hasan shortly after resumption. Ashraful's lost his offstump while attempting a wild swing across the line and Shakib got a thick edge to Akmal off a loose drive away from his body. A mix-up in the running compounded their woes as Raqibul Hasan called for a risky single and sent back Mahmudullah. At 68 for 6, it was all one-way traffic as Afridi and Malik shared the last four wickets to mop up the tail.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a staff writer at Cricinfo