Pakistan 132 for 6 (Khushdil 34, Fakhar 34, Shadab 21*, Taskin 2-31) beat Bangladesh 127 for 7 (Afif 36, Mahedi 30, Nurul 28, Hasan 3-22, Wasim 2-24) by four wickets
Pakistan made it unnecessarily complicated for themselves, but their bowlers had done enough in the first half to ensure they held on for an exciting four-wicket win in the first T20I against Bangladesh in Dhaka. In a gritty, and sometimes ugly, contest where ball didn't come on to bat much, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Wasim Jnr and Shadab Khan stifled the Bangladesh batters, especially in the first ten overs, to keep them to a below-par 127. Bangladesh managed just three boundaries and seven sixes all innings, with Nurul Hasan and Mahedi Hasan providing a late boost to the innings.
It was the sort of target Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam tend to knock off with ease, but on these surfaces in front of a raucous home crowd, Bangladesh weren't going to let go easily. Mustafizur Rahman found movement with the new ball and castled Rizwan with a beauty early, while an off-colour Babar chopped on to Taskin Ahmed. Haider Ali and Shoaib Malik, too, fell cheaply to put Bangladesh on top. So it was left to Fakhar Zaman and Khushdil Shah to grind their way to keep Pakistan in touch with the asking rate, and for Shadab and Mohammad Nawaz to provide the fireworks at the end.
Bangladesh off the boil
Coming off a World Cup where they disappointed, this was Bangladesh's chance of a reset. But, instead of batting with abandon after winning the toss, they appeared to be playing within themselves, preferring caution to bravery as Pakistan's bowlers applied the squeeze. It wasn't until the sixth over that the first boundary was struck, and by the halfway stage, they had hobbled to 40 for 4. The lower-middle order led an impressive recovery and 87 off the final ten meant Pakistan had a chase on their hands.
A poor finish for Pakistan
An odd statistical quirk of Pakistan's generally spotless bowling performance was how each of the five bowlers had their figures spoilt somewhat by expensive final overs. The final overs of Nawaz, Shadab, Wasim, Hasan and Haris Rauf went for 15, 13, 12, 11 and 15 respectively. It meant five bowlers who had allowed just 61 in their first three overs collectively had leaked 66 in their fourths.
Bowlers give Bangladesh a chance
All the good work the bowlers had done looked to have unravelled in a frenetic first ten overs of the Pakistan chase. The two-paced nature of the pitch had Babar checking many of his shots, while Mustafizur sent Rizwan packing early with a classical inswinger. Babar was fortunate not to fall a few balls earlier than he did, when a nick through to the keeper wasn't reviewed. An untidy hoick by Haider saw him fall for a duck, but Shoaib Malik's dismissal was the most unforgivable of all.
One of the most experienced men in the game, Malik made the schoolboy error of strolling out of his crease while the ball was alive, and in the hands of Bangladesh keeper Nurul Hasan. He spotted Malik's brainfade and had a shy at the stumps, catching the veteran out of his crease and reducing Pakistan to 24 for 4 in the powerplay.
Fakhar, Khushdil heroics
When you think of Fakhar and Khushdil performing heroics for their side, you probably imagine them teeing off, blasting big runs. Instead, the two men who hit 34 each, got their runs at less than a run-a-ball, their combined 68 coming in 71 balls. The middle order had dug in after the early losses, ensuring the asking rate was within touch. They were aware Pakistan had the firepower to catch up at the death, so even when the two fell within three overs of each other, Shadab and Nawaz had an equation they could work with. The two allrounders will grab the headlines, but without the toil of Fakhar and Khushdil, they wouldn't have had the opportunity.