Shehzad fuels Pakistan victory

Last Updated 30 March 2014, 17:21 IST

Hoping against hope, some of the Australian players occupied their seats in the dugout next to Bangladesh’s. Their slim chances of progressing into the semifinals depended on home team pulling off an improbable win over Pakistan on Sunday’s opening fixture.

Once Pakistan posted a massive 190 for five after Ahmed Shehzad (11, 62b, 10x4, 5x6) became their country’s first batsman to score a hundred in a T20 international, and overall 12th, Australia’s hopes evaporated into thin air.

In another inept display, Bangladesh crashed to 50-run defeat after Pakistan bowlers tied down the hosts to 140 for seven here at the Sher-e-Bangla National stadium. The result meant, Pakistan will have to beat West Indies in Tuesday’s Group 2 clash to ensure their fifth successive entry into the semifinals.

Despite a series of losses, the Bangladeshi fans once again packed the stadium to its brim. The least they deserved was a good fight from the players they refer to as tigers. All their favourite team could come up with was a show that would do little credit to their status as a Test-playing nation. Though they plucked a couple of good catches, the fielding, by and large, remained poor. Bowlers continued to be erratic while batsmen wilted under the weight of huge target.

Given the depth and guile in Pakistani attack, it was always going to be a humungous task of chasing the total under lights. A semblance of fight, however, wasn’t impossible. Shakib Al Hasan, perhaps their most accomplished player across formats, provided some entertainment with his cameo (38, 32b, 2x4, 2x6) but it wasn’t going to make any dent.

Opting to bat first, Pakistan were off to a blazing start with Shehzad leading Pakistan’s charge. The right-hander was particularly severe against Mashrafe Mortaza who recorded the worst T20 figures.

The paceman bowled his four wicketless overs conceding 63 runs. His country-mate Rubel Hossain had conceded as many runs against the West Indies but had two wickets in the last column.

Shhzad set the tone for the innings, collecting 18 runs (0, 4, 4, 4, 0, 6) off the third over bowled by Mortaza. Pakistan appeared to lose their way when they slipped to 71 for three from 70 for one in the 10th over. Shehzad, though, stayed firm and punished the listless home attack. The left-arm spinners -- Shakib (1/21) and Abdur Razzak (2/20) -- did an excellent job to slow down the Pakistan innings in the middle but the pacers were a big let-down. Between the three of them – Mortaza, Al-Amin Hossain and Ziaur Rahman – 121 were plundered in mere nine overs.

Shehzad took a particular liking to the three pacers clobbering them for 87 while facing 39 deliveries from them. The 22-year-old received good support from Shoaib Malik (26) and Shahid Afridi (22) in the back end of the innings. While Shehzad added 83 run for the fourth wicket with Malik, 36 runs came for the next wicket with Afridi. The Lahore-born player, who had missed out on a T20I century by two runs (98 n.o. against Zimbabwe in August last), wasn’t going to let go another opportunity.

(Published 30 March 2014, 13:00 IST)

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