Pakistan 226 for 5 (Youhana 94*, Younis 37) beat Bangladesh 222 for 8 (Saleh 47, Bashar 37) by 5 wickets, with one ball to spare
Yousuf Youhana scripted another gritty innings to lead Pakistan to a fourth consecutive victory in the one-day series against Bangladesh. Set 223 for victory, Pakistan eked home with five wickets, and one ball to spare, Youhana's contribution being an elegant 94.
Shoaib Malik and Youhana had restored sanity to the proceedings after Inzamam ul-Haq's dismissal, and the run-rate came down to a run-a-ball before disaster struck. Malik steered a Tapash Baisya delivery to midwicket, where Alok Kapali made a superb diving stop. He was into the throw almost before he was off the ground, and Baisya whipped off the bails with Malik way short of the crease (205 for 5).
After Mashrafe Mortaza conceded 8 in the penultimate over, Pakistan needed 7 from six balls. But then, Youhana picked off 5 from Baisya's first three balls, before Razzaq took a single to tie the scores. Fittingly, it was Youhana that sealed it with a four down to deep midwicket. When the pressure mounted, Bangladesh couldn't cope, with fielding lapses aplenty in the final stages.
Pakistan had bolted out of the stalls in pursuit of 223, with Imran Nazir belting a four off Mortaza in the first over. Runs came quickly early on, with Nazir in punishing form, thumping fours through point and the leg side. Mohammad Hafeez had made sedate progress to 9 when he chipped a delivery from Baisya to short midwicket, where Rajin Saleh took an excellent catch (35 for 1). Nazir, who lost his place in the Pakistan set-up largely as a result of his reckless approach, then showed that he had learnt nothing at all with an ugly hoick off Baisya that ballooned to Hannan Sarkar at cover. Nazir made 28 from just 24 balls.
Youhana and Younis did nothing special, but they steadily picked off the runs to ensure that Pakistan didn't fall too far behind the asking rate. It was an innocuous delivery from Mohammad Rafique that changed the complexion of the game. Younis, who had nudged and pushed his way to 37, went for the pull and was declared leg before when he failed to make contact (135 for 3).
Youhana pulled a four and a six off Khaled Mahmud to lessen the frowns on the spectators' faces, but when Inzamam miscued a pull off Mortaza to Baisya at deep midwicket, the jitters started in earnest (170 for 4).
Earlier, Bangladesh had recovered from a big mid-innings stutter to rattle off 77 runs in the final 10 overs, and finish with a challenging total of 222 for 8. Tushar Imran, Mushfiqur Rahman and Mahmud thrashed their bats around with some joy in the final stages, after Pakistan had controlled proceedings for much of the first 40 overs.
Having slumped to 144 for 5, Imran and Rahman launched a spirited counter-attack. Junaid Zia, whose every move is scrutinised on account of his being the PCB boss's son, was the object of their harshest treatment, and he went for 46 from six overs, including one in which Imran slammed him for three fours.
Imran made a 31-ball 33 before Umar Gul, the pick of the bowlers yet again, returned to trap him leg before, playing across the line (193 for 6). But Rahman and Mahmud played some punishing shots to take the score past 200 before being yorked by Gul and Mohammad Sami respectively.
Bangladesh's experiment of opening with Khaled Mashud was an abject failure. Gul and Sami both threatened in their opening spells, and it was Sami - just back in the side after his injury woes - that sent Mashud packing for a four-ball duck, trapped plumb in front of the stumps (9 for 1).
Sarkar and Saleh chose circumspection over flamboyance as Bangladesh attempted to fight back. But progress was slow, the the first four of the innings, a cover-drive from Saleh off Gul, didn't arrive until the 12th over. Soon after, Razzaq, just introduced into the attack, struck a second blow.
Sarkar had lashed the second ball of the over through extra-cover for four, and he followed it up with a fortuitous inside-edge that fetched him four more. But two balls later, Razzaq had his revenge, getting a ball to shape back in and rap Sarkar on the pads. Replays seemed to suggest that the contact was outside the line, but umpire Tiffin lifted his finger to send Sarkar on his way for 25 (47 for 2).
Both Habibul Bashar and Saleh struggled to impose themselves on a Pakistan side that bowled with great discipline and vigour. The only blot for Pakistan was Inzamam going off the field for treatment after being struck a nasty blow on the arm by a Bashar drive.
With overs ticking away, Bashar decided to chance his arm. Zia was the victim, being cut powerfully for two fours, and also being flicked down to fine-leg. The partnership had assumed alarming proportions when some brilliant fielding from Sami saw Pakistan wrest back the initiative. He chased down an edge from Saleh, and his throw from the rope knocked out the stumps with Bashar short of his ground (117 for 3). Bashar, after a slow start, made 37 from 66 balls.
Saleh departed soon after, leg before to Hafeez for a patient 47 (126 for 4) and when Kapali played on to Razzaq a few minutes later, Bangladesh were under the cosh. But the lower order put up enough resistance to ensure that Pakistan had to perspire heavily to make it 4-0 later in the evening.