Main course goes cold as Pakistan falter
It was unfair to expect Pakistan to match what Netherlands did 272km northeast of Shere Bangla National Stadium. But the batting performance that came an hour or so after the six-binge at the Sylhet Stadium was a damp squib even in absolute terms.
Andrew Poynter, Kevin O'Brien, Stephen Myburgh and Tom Cooper concocted the perfect appetizer ahead of an India-Pakistan game, but despite the plethora of stroke-players in both sides, the main course only had six sixes after those 30 big ones in the Ireland-Netherlands game. Boredom seeped into the Mirpur crowd as they went for the Mexican Wave as early as the sixth over of the Pakistan innings.
Pakistan were underwhelming from the start, never threatening India with a spell of batting at any stage. They were restricted to 130 for 7, a below-par total by any standard. They wouldn't have been expected to defend the total too, having defended a total below 130 only once in Twenty20s - against Sri Lanka in Hambantota two years ago.
But the biggest disappointment was their batting as a whole, which was built through four poor clusters. Mohammad Hafeez picked out the Kamran Akmal run-out as the reason for the poor start but Ahmed Shehzad and the captain himself failed to force the issue in the first six overs.
Pakistan made 34 runs in the Powerplay, after which they lost the way further by losing two more wickets and adding just 16 more runs till the 10-over mark. From 50 for 3, Pakistan still had hopes from the remaining batsmen, particularly the pair in the middle - Umar Akmal and Shoaib Malik - who were steadying the ship and slightly threatening. But as it happened, the danger was minimal for India.
"You have to set the tone right from the start," Hafeez said. "But unfortunately one run out at the start of the innings and the pitch - the ball was not coming on to the bat and there was some spongy bounce in it. That's the reason we couldn't get that total in the first 10 overs.
"But still I believe that partnership between Umar Akmal and Shoaib Malik gave us some hope that we can score 150 on this track. But those three overs after the 15th, we couldn't get the momentum right and we couldn't get that total."
In the three-over period after the 15th, Pakistan added just eight runs and lost two wickets, enough to derail them. Sohaib Maqsood tried a few angles and was briefly successful, hitting two fours and a six, but that was the only six of the innings, and it was never going to be enough in the last few overs.
In the Powerplay overs, Pakistan's average RPO is 6.95, and in the next two slots, from the seventh to the tenth over and from the eleventh to the fifteenth, they usually score at 6.70 and 8.29 per over respectively. They batted below par in those three slots, and finally in the last five, they were 34 for 4, as opposed to the 8.71 they usually get in this time.
Hafeez said the wicket wasn't good enough to have a target in mind, but bemoaned the lack of one big score. Akmal made 33, the highest score in the innings.
"In a match like this, you need one big knock which unfortunately we didn't get this time," Hafeez said. "But still, these conditions - the ball turning - that is more suited to us against Australia and the other teams and our batting must play its role, there is no doubt about that."
As far as the opening match of the Super 10s is concerned, this was below-par. Pakistan, having always had the tag of being one of the favourites in World T20s, have to turn up with a better plan next time.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here