Mashrafe Mortaza bowled three successive dot balls to Kamran Akmal in the first over. The batsman let go the first two outside off, and was beaten by the third one that cut in and bounced over the stumps. The Mirpur crowd were upping their volume steadily, the third one ushering a particularly loud roar. The fourth delivery was short and wide, though, and Akmal cut it hard to the deep point boundary. It was as if the power had been flipped off in the stadium.
Bangladesh had put down some sitters in their previous match, and had also pulled off some stunners. So when Akmal top-edged a sweep off Abdur Razzak and the ball seemed to be looping over short fine leg, there was considerable nerves around. However, Ziaur Rahman back-pedalled quickly, leaped as it came down over his head, clasped it with both hands and managed to hold on as he crashed into the ground.
Ahmed Shehzad was in serious touch, and it was apparent when he took Mortaza for 18 runs in the third over. Three successive fours were topped up by Shehzad coming down the track for the final delivery of the over and smoothly lofting the ball over the bowler. He hadn't used much power and the bat swing was anything but quick, but he had timed it so well it cleared the straight boundary by several metres.
The good fortune
Shehzad had moved into the 80s when he top-edged a pull off Shakib Al Hasan in the 18th over. Even as the skier climbed, the bowler ran after it. Deep square leg, deep midwicket, long-on circled around as well. Midwicket was vacant, though, and the ball dropped neatly in between the onrushing fielders. Shehzad rode his fortune to complete his century and was gifted another life when he was caught in the deep off Mortaza in the 19th over, but replays showed it was a big no-ball.
The rip-roaring welcome
Every boundary hit by a Pakistan batsman had been met by a deathly silence from the Dhaka faithful, and every wicket had been celebrated with gusto - a usual occurrence in the subcontinent. Enter Shahid Afridi, in the 18th over, and convention was abandoned. He was cheered all the way as he walked out to the pitch, even more wildly when the giant screen flashed his picture and name. People know a star when they see one.