Aggressive Butt scripts seven-wicket win
A blazing 76 by Salman Butt led Pakistan to a comprehensive seven-wicket win in a rain-curtailed match at the Iqbal Stadium. Heavy rain after 48.2 overs in Bangladesh's innings kept the players off the field for more than two hours and the target of 226 was reduced to 158 in 25 overs by the D/L method. Pakistan made easy work of the target, despite an asking-rate of more than six an over, and extended their lead to 2-0 in the five-match series.
Despite the heavy defeat, Bangladesh had something to write home about, especially their lower-order revival. Mahmudullah's unbeaten half-century pushed Bangladesh to a respectable score of 225 for 8 after a characteristic top-order wobble. Tamim Iqbal piloted the early charge with an attacking 60 but the excitement was rather shortlived, with half the side back in the pavilion by the 25th over. Mahmudullah then proceeded to add 37 with Farhad Reza, doubled that effort with Dhiman Ghosh, and those stands were significant in ensuring Bangladesh didn't fold up before the allotted overs.
Tamim set the pace with some gorgeous drives through extra cover and controlled flicks off the pads, making it fairly obvious from the start that the margin for error on this surface was minimal. The high elbows were a feature of his technique as he punched crisply through the off side and back past the bowler.
Shahriar Nafees wasn't as technically correct and like a repeat offender, perished in identical fashion to the Lahore game, swatting at a wide delivery away from the body. Aftab Ahmed's dismissal was unfortunate as replays indicated the ball struck him above the knee roll off Gul, who picked up his 50th ODI wicket in the process.
Ashraful walked in and went on the offensive with an exquisite cover drive off Tanvir to go past Habibul Bashar as the highest run-getter in ODIs for Bangladesh, before taking Gul to task with three fours in a single over. However, Bangladesh lost two quick wickets against the run of play - including Ashraful - and Tamim fell shortly after bringing up his fifty.
Mahmudullah and Reza got together for damage control after Tamim's wicket, and the pair brought some stability to the innings. With spinners bowling from either end, the pair grafted - staying back and waiting for the turn, pushing the ball into the gaps and fetching the odd boundary. The partnership was worth 37 before Reza lunged forward to Shahid Afridi and was trapped lbw just after a drinks break, in the 34th over.
Luckily for Mahmudullah, he found an able partner in Ghosh and the pair strung together the most fruitful stand of the evening. In the five overs after Reza's dismissal, Bangladesh added 34. Pakistan lost the plot, and the introduction of Younis Khan to break the stand only leaked more runs. Mahmudullah never got tied down at any stage, and shortly after the pair added 50 runs, he brought up his own half-century, giving Sohail Tanvir the charge and punching him through extra cover and then glancing one down to fine leg the following ball. Rain intervened with ten balls left, leaving Mahmudullah unbeaten on 58.
The overcast conditions mattered little for Pakistan as the openers blazed away in a stand of 46 in just over seven overs. Butt took to Mashrafe Mortaza early, punching him through extra cover and followed it up with a pull over midwicket in the same over. His innings was a suitably classy affair, full of proper cricket shots, drives, cuts and the odd pull.
The early pounding forced Ashraful to bring his slow bowlers on in the fifth over and the move worked as the left-armers, Abdur Razzak and Shakib Al Hasan, plugged the scoring for three consecutive overs. Nasir Jamshed fell after attempting one ugly heave too many, bowled by Shakib.
Younis Khan walked in and carted Mahmudullah for a huge six over midwicket before a swing and a miss off Reza sent him back for 13. Yousuf joined Butt, and during his cameo knock of 32 became the second Pakistani to go past 9000 ODI runs behind Inzamam-ul-Haq. Butt brought up his fifty in the 18th over, launched Mahmudullah for a six over long-off before he was run-out off a direct hit for 76. His 72-ball knock had all but sealed the victory, with Pakistan needing just seven to win.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a staff writer at Cricinfo