World Cup T20: It was Afridi’s revenge!

Srinagar: Pakistan started their ICC T20 World Cup campaign on a positive note as they beat Bangladesh by 55 runs in their first match of the tournament at Kolkata. Pakistan has played only one warm-up match prior to the tournament which they won and now this win cements the fact that the team is not to be taken lightly.
Pakistan’s participation in the tournament was uncertain till the initiation of the tournament but Winning the toss Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi wasted to time and elected to bat. Sharjeel Khan and Ahmed Shehzad opened batting for Pakistan while Taskin Ahmed opened bowling for Bangladesh. The first boundary came from Shehzad in the very first over but it was Sharjeel Khan who went all guns blazing from the very start, hitting back to back sixes in the second over. Sharjeel departed making 18 but his innings put the Bangladesh bowlers under pressure. Shehzad kept going on along with Mohammad Hafeez with sensible cricket, taking their time, waiting for the right delivery to hit it for the big ones. Hafeez started off with a six but built a much needed partnership that helped Pakistan get to the total.
The partnership between Hafeez and Shehzad remained to be the most crucial one as they went on to add 95 runs. Shehzad, after being dropped and re-included to the side, proved his worth scoring 52 off 39. Skipper Shahid Afridi promoted himself up the order and came out at No. 4. From there on, Hafeez and Afridi maintained the same run rate and took things forward. Afridi looked in a great touch as he punished each and every bowler hitting them all over Eden Gardens. Hafeez departed making a crucial 64 and departed as Soumya Sarkar took a brilliant catch at deep mid-wicket. Sarkar picked up the catch from over the ropes, threw it back to balanced himself and gripped it back to get the danger-man out.
Shahid Afridi looked unstoppable today as he scored a quickfire 49 off 19 balls that powered Pakistan even more towards the huge total and pushed it beyond 180. Afridi hit 4 fours and 4 sixes and the innings not only remained crucial for the match but his comeback to form is another positive for Pakistan.
The Bangladesh bowling attack failed entirely, except Arafat Sunny. The two most effective bowlers for Bangladesh, failed against Pakistan as they gave away too many runs. The most successful bowlers were Taskin Ahmed and Arafat Sunny, who bagged a couple of wickets each. Al-Amin Hossain remained wicketless while Sabbir Rahman picked up one giving away 11 runs.
Bangladesh started off weakly as they lost a couple of early wickets. Pakistan got their first wicket in the very first over of Bangladesh’s batting as Mohammed Aamer bowled Soumya Sarkar off the third ball for a duck. Tamim Iqbal and Sabbir Rahman tried to settle things down as they built up a partnership of 43 runs but Shahid Afridi came into action and dismissed an in-form Sabbir Rahman for 25. Tamim Iqbal soon followed him scoring 24 and Bangladesh were neck-deep in trouble.
One positive for Bangladesh was their all-rounder Shakib al Hasan reaching 1000 T20I runs of his career. He became the second player to have 1000 runs and 50 wickets in the format after Shahid Afridi which marked a milestone of his career.
Bangladesh kept on losing wickets and it was not until the partnership of Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim that Bangladesh found stability in their batting. The two brought in 100 for their side. But their slow-paced innings could not bring victory for Bangladesh as the target was huge. Eventually, Bangladesh’s innings came to an end with 146 runs with the loss of 6 wickets.
It has to be Shahid Afridi’s all-round performance that ensured their victory. Afridi scored good runs facing very few deliveries while bagged a couple of important wickets. Shakib Al Hasan remained the highest run-getter for his side with 50 runs and remained unbeaten.
“I was hungry to perform. I haven’t been doing that for a while. I should take responsibility as a captain and as a player. I talked about my batting order with coach and it helped. This is an important tournament for me and my country.” Shahid Afridi looks vindicated.The Pakistan bowlers remained quite successful. Shahid Afridi bagged two crucial wickets bowling 4 overs.
It will be a cracker when Pakistan take on India, a monkey on their back, on 19 March. And not because of the narrative (well, that too), but mostly it’ll be about cricket. If Pakistan can replicate their batting performance of today against India, Dhoni must get to work right now.

Cheeky Singles
This is the Pakistan’s second highest win in terms of Margin of runs inT20Is. Before this, they had won by 82 runs while playing against Netherlands at Lord’s in 2009.
All-rounder Shakib-ul-Hasan became the 2nd Bangladeshi and 26th overall player to complete 1000 runs in T20Is. The first one was the opener Tamim Iqbal.
Shabbir Rahman is the first Bangladeshi and 9th overall player to aggregate 400 or more T20I runs in a year.
Mohammad Hafeez has scored just two half centuries in this year. Before this, he had not scored any fifty in 14 innings in 2014 and 2015 combined.
Ahmed Shehzad scored unbeaten 111 against Bangladesh in the last WC T20 in 2014, and he scored a 39-ball 52 in this WC T20.

BRIEF SCORES:
Pakistan 201 for 5 in overs 20 (Ahmed Shehzad 52, Mohammad Hafeez 64, Shahid Afridi 49; Taskin Ahmed 2 for 32) win by 55 runs vs Bangladesh ( Shakib Al Hasan* 50; Mohammad Aamer 2 for 27, Shahid Afridi 2 for 27)

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