You would think there are better ways to spend a Sunday than travel to the Shere Bangla National Stadium and brave the rain, hoping the monsoon would be kind enough to spare the tournament opener. Rain, at some point, was a certainty yet the crowds streamed in to fill the half where the less expensive stands were located. They spent the first hour and a half scuttling from their seats in the roofless stands towards shelter as it rained in short, but sharp, bursts. The toss finally happened around half past four but just as the Bangladesh players were preparing to take the field, the covers came on yet again, perhaps as a precautionary measure. Luckily the rain stayed away.
Salman Butt and Kamran Akmal opened the batting but for the first eight overs it was one man who kept Pakistan going at nearly six an over. Butt raced to 40 off 38 with balls with eight fours and at the same stage Akmal had managed to score only 5 off ten balls. Akmal, however, hit the first six, a slap over long-off in the 11th over.
The 19-year-old Dolar Mahmud, a medium-pacer, came on to bowl his first over in ODIs with Pakistan at 51 for no loss. His first ball came slowly off the pitch to Akmal, who tried to play a forceful drive, and an inside-edge went perilously close to the off stump. Instead of striking first-ball, Mahmud had gone for four. However, he did come back to induce an edge and remove Akmal in his next over.
Bangladesh's sole representative at the Indian Premier League was left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak and his first over today was an extension of his IPL experience, where he went for 29 off two overs in his only match for the Bangalore Royal Challengers. Akmal muscled his second ball for six over long-off and later in the over Butt caressed a square drive through cover. Eleven runs came off Razzak's first over but he recovered to concede only 24 off his next 6.3, picking up three wickets in the process.
Younis Khan's first innings of the tournament was a non-starter. He came in at the fall of Akmal's wicket and was immediately at the other end for the first ball off the 13th over. Butt pushed off the back foot to midwicket and the batsmen set off for the single but Raqibul Hasan's sliding stop to his right at midwicket made Butt send Younis back. He hurried to make his ground but his bat was just short as Razzak broke the stumps. Younis was gone without facing a ball.
Pakistan's three biggest flops at the IPL were Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi and Misbah-ul-Haq. Afridi glimmered briefly today, striking one powerful pull before mistiming his several subsequent attempts at finding the boundary during his 20 off 17 balls. Malik's innings, 9 off 19, contributed to Pakistan's loss of momentum during the final overs. Misbah, however, shook off his awful form with Bangalore and struck 39 off 22 balls, including two sixes over long-on and deep midwicket.
The Bangladesh fans that came out to support their team went through a lot. They sat through the rain patiently and then watched Pakistan's top-order rattle up a sizeable target. They had something to cheer about when Bangladesh's bowlers took 7 for 55 in the final ten overs of Pakistan's innings but that joy was short-lived as the run-chase failed to get off the ground. However, they stuck around even as wickets fell. Hopes of winning faded from difficult to practically impossible and yet they did not leave the stadium. Mashrafe Mortaza's duck was the final straw. As soon as he edged Umar Gul, they started leaving though some stuck around near the exits. They started filing out again when Dolar Mahmud was bowled for another duck soon after.
George Binoy is a staff writer at Cricinfo