PAK vs AFG: In a thrilling encounter at the home of the 2023 Asia Cup, Lahore, Pakistan showcased their cricketing prowess by securing a comfortable seven-wicket win over Bangladesh in the Super Four opener.
The match was a testament to Pakistan’s balanced performance, with their fast bowlers setting the tone early on, followed by a composed batting display.
Dominant Bowling Display
The story of the match began with Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan winning the toss and electing to bat first. However, their decision was met with fierce resistance from Pakistan’s pace attack.
The trio of Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, and Haris Rauf wreaked havoc on the Bangladeshi top order. Mehidy Hasan Miraz, who had shown promise against Afghanistan, was dismissed for a first-ball duck by the fiery Naseem Shah.
Haris Rauf reached a significant milestone in his ODI career, claiming his 50th wicket by dismissing Mohammed Naim in his very first over.
This early onslaught by Pakistan’s pace bowlers put Bangladesh on the back foot, with Litton Das and Towhid Hridoy also falling within the first 10 overs.
Shakib and Mushfiqur’s Resilience
Despite the early setbacks, senior Bangladeshi batsmen Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim displayed their experience by embarking on a crucial rebuilding mission.
They stitched together a resilient 100-run partnership for the fifth wicket, offering Bangladesh a glimmer of hope. Shakib, in particular, was impressive, scoring 53 runs before falling victim to Faheem Ashraf.
This partnership was the second-highest fifth-wicket stand for Bangladesh against Pakistan, second only to the 106-run partnership between Nasir Hossain and Shakib in 2011.
Chasing a target of 194 runs for victory, Pakistan began their innings steadily. Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam provided a solid 35-run opening partnership within the Powerplay. However, Bangladesh managed to claw back into the game by dismissing both openers within a span of six overs.
Yet, Pakistan’s middle order proved their mettle. Imam-ul-Haq led the charge with an impressive 78 off 84 balls, stabilizing the innings after the early wickets.
Mohammad Rizwan, the wicketkeeper-batsman, played a responsible innings, remaining unbeaten on 63 and ensuring that there were no further scares for Pakistan. He partnered effectively with Agha Salman to guide Pakistan to a convincing victory.
Babar Azam’s Milestone
While his time at the crease was relatively short, Babar Azam achieved a significant milestone during the match. He surpassed 2000 runs as captain in ODIs, becoming only the fourth player to do so for Pakistan. This feat places him in esteemed company alongside legends like Imran Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, and Inzamam-ul-Haq.
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