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The Bulletin by Siddarth Ravindran
April 20, 2008
Misbah-ul-Haq turned in another spectacular performance in the game's shortest format, smashing an unbeaten 87 to set up a massive 102-run victory in Pakistan's one-off Twenty20 match against Bangladesh in Karachi. The visitors were comprehensively outplayed yet again as they finished their miserable tour with another abject performance, conceding 203 runs in the field and managing just 101 in reply.
In the first Twenty20 international to be held in Pakistan, Shoaib Malik's decision to bat first seemed to have gone awry when in-form openers Salman Butt and Kamran Akmal were both dismissed in the first over. Bangladesh's joy was shortlived, however, as Younis Khan and Misbah made light of the loss of wickets to propel Pakistan to 84 for 2 by the end of the ninth over.
Both batsmen used their feet well to unsettle the bowlers and complemented their big hits with superb running between the wickets to keep Pakistan on course for a big total. Younis was the more aggressive of the two, racing along to 47 with the help of some effortless cuts and drives before falling to the first ball from Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladesh's best performer through the series.
Even that wicket couldn't stem the scoring rate as Malik biffed some huge sixes before being stumped off Abdur Razzaq for a quickfire 35. It's not often that the fall of the home side's captain is greeted by a huge roar, but it was this time as local boy Shahid Afridi walked out. However, much to the fans' disappointment, his stay was a short one, bowled by Shahadat Hossain as he looked to clobber the ball over midwicket.
The star of the innings, though, was Misbah, who again demonstrated how Twenty20 isn't all about power-hitting as he combined impeccably-timed hits with brisk running. With the ropes pulled in, the boundaries were short and Misbah capitalised with five sixes, all on the leg side. This was the highest score by a Pakistan batsman in a Twenty20 international and it took the hosts to 203, their biggest total in this format. The Bangladesh attack was innocuous and their fielding, despite a few spectacular efforts, was generally below par.
Pakistan's new-ball bowlers, Umar Gul and Sohail Tanvir, who were so impressive during the World Twenty20 last year, throttled the runs by effectively mixing up both their length and pace. Bangladesh's openers led a chancy existence: two of Tamim Iqbal's mishits were spilled by Afridi, while Nazimuddin was fortunate to see his attempted pull fly off the top edge for six.
After Tanvir foxed Tamim with a high full toss, Mohammad Ashraful, with a handy career strike-rate around 180, strode out but his forgettable tour continued as he holed out to long-on for 13. The visitors still had an outside chance at 85 for 2 with Nazimuddin going strong but an abject collapse followed.
Eight wickets fell for 16 runs as they slid to an embarrassing defeat in a format they were expected to be far more competitive in. The collapse was triggered off by a tight spell from Afridi which caused the already-steep asking-rate to climb even more, prompting some injudicious strokes and running between the wickets from the visitors. By the time Afridi completed his quota Bangladesh were out of the game, having slid to 95 for 6.
Mansoor Amjad, the debutant legspinner who was a spectator for much of the match, had a dream start to complete the formalities: brought on in the 15th over, he took 3 for 3 in six balls as Bangladesh fluffed their last chance to salvage some pride in this series.
Siddarth Ravindran is an editorial assistant at CricinfoFeeds: Siddarth Ravindran
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