NEW DELHI: Shahid Afridi’s brilliant blitzkrieg proved too hot for Bangladesh to handle as Pakistan registered a thrilling 3-wicket win that knocked India out of the Asia Cup.
Afridi (59 off 25) hit 2 smashing boundaries and 7 scintillating sixes in his stupendous innings that also involved quick-fire 69-run partnership with Fawad Alam, who himself scored a 70-ball 74 to seal the match for Pakistan.
Afridi reached his half-century in just 18 balls thereby equalling his own record for the second fastest one-day international half-century.
Pakistan seemed to lose the plot in their 327-run chase as they lost quick wickets; however, the arrival of Afridi turned to be the game-changer as his onslaught resurrected Pakistan after the dismissal of centurion Ahmed Shehzad.
Abdur Razzak gave Bangladesh the much-needed breakthrough when his yorker was too good for Shehzad (103) to handle and he was comprehensively bowled.
Shehzad hit 12 boundaries and one six in his innings that also involved a swift 105-plus run partnership for the 4th wicket with Fawad Alam. Pakistan were jolted earlier when Mominul Haque struck twice in quick succession.
Mohammad Hafeez (52) was the first to be dismissed soon after he hit his fifty when Mominul forced him to mistime a loopy ball towards long-on where it was comfortably taken by Imrul Kayes.
Hafeez reached his half-century with the help of 8 boundaries and also put up a determined 97-run partnership for the opening wicket with Shehzad.
Soon after, Misbah-ul-Haq (4) returned to the pavilion when Shakib Al Hasan breached the Pakistan skipper’s defences and got the better of his stumps.
Mominul then dismissed Sohaib Maqsood (2) when the Pakistan batsman tried to cut the ball but instead was caught by wicket-keeper Anamul Haque.
Earlier, Bangladesh feasted on a below bowling and fielding effort from Pakistan to pile up their highest-ever ODI total of 326 for three in a must-win game.
While opener Anamul Haque build the foundation with a patient 100 off 132 balls with six fours and four sixes, it was their senior-most stars Mushfiqur Rahim (51 no, 33 balls) and Shakib al Hasan (44 no, 16 balls), who finished the innings with a smashing 77-run partnership in only 5.3 overs.
Opener Imrul Kayes (59 from 75 balls; 5×4, 2×6) who added 150 runs for the opening stand with Anamul and Mominul Haque (51 off 47 balls) also made useful contributions to prop up Bangladesh total.
Returning from a three-match suspension, premier all-rounder Shakib’s innings was studded with six fours and two sixes as Bangladesh scored 68 runs in the last five overs to eclipse their previous best score of 320/8 against Zimbabwe during their tour of 2009.
Skipper Rahim also struck eight fours while Mominul with six boundaries also made their presence felt with eye-catching knocks.
A win for Bangladesh would also boost India’s hopes as they would have to win by a bonus point against Afghanistan tomorrow. Should there be a tie in the points tally net run rate would come into play.
Nothing went Pakistan’s way in the match. From spilling a catch at slip when Kayes was on zero in the first over to some woeful misfieldings that had Misbah-ul-Haq dumbfounded, Pakistan looked disjointed and disoriented right from the start.
The worst came for Pakistan when their left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman who was included in place of left-arm pacer Junaid Khan was barred from bowling after bowling a hat-trick of ‘beamers’ with unprecedented figures of 0-0-8-0.
Another thing that baffled many was the team’s decision to take out the ace spinner Saeed Ajmal after his brilliant first spell of three overs that conceded only four runs.
Ajmal once again looked the best bowler of the day during the first part before he gave away 52 runs in his final four overs.
Surprisingly, when it was needed to break the century-plus opening partnership, Pakistani skipper Misbah-ul-Haq chose to keep the ace off-spinner out of the attack as the duo of Kayes and Haque cruised to 101 runs in 18 overs.
The duo put on 150 runs in 28.2 overs, Bangladesh’s second highest opening partnership after the 170 by Shahriar Hossain and Mehrab Hossain against Zimbabwe in 1999 as Mohammad Talha broke the stand taking the wicket of Kayes.
Ajmal was brought on finally in the 36th over to complete his quota as he dismissed Haque with a deceiving doosra immediately after scoring his second ODI century.
Haque stepped out to Ajmal immediately after getting to three figures but was holed out at deep midwicket.
AFRIDI: I tried my level best to perform well. Misbah has been a great support and it’s my type of situation and I had the licence. I was confident that 10, 10.5 an over was possible so I took a chance. I have to congratulate Bangladesh for the score they put up. We need to do better with the ball. [Who is your batting coach?] None, no one. Moin bhai supports me. I knew if I slog I will hit it because it was a very good pitch.
Misbah ul Haq: He’s really playing well and he’s cashing into his form which is really good for us. Everybody knows the kind of players he is when he is in full swing and nobody can stop him. That’s really encouraging, we’ve been playing well in chases and this will give us great confidence in the coming games and years also. We have been playing a lot of cricket here and when the ball starts going, you can’t stop it. We have a world class bowling attack and even they couldn’t stop it so we knew we can score 10 an over if needed. We have quite a few things in our mind. We don’t want to lose the game 260 was also in our mind and we had to distribute our batsmen and that’s why we changed the line-up.
Mushfiqur Rahim: After the last couple of games, this was a great effort from the players. We were just unlucky not to win. There were some silly errors. It’s really unlucky for our fans because we disappointed them again.