Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Mushfiqur Rahim may have fallen one short of a century, but he still led Bangladesh to a 37-run win over Pakistan and helped them progress to the Asia Cup final, where they will face India.
Opting to bat first, Bangladesh made a horrible start to their innings as opener Soumya Sarkar was dismissed by Junaid Khan for a duck.
Mominul Haque only scored five runs before he was clean bowled by Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Liton Das, who opened the batting with Sarkar, mustered six runs before he was cleaned up by Junaid.
With Bangladesh struggling at 12/3 in the fifth over, Rahim and Mohammad Mithun came to the rescue with a 144-run partnership, during which both batsmen surpassed their fifties.
Mithun ended up making 60 off 84 balls, which included four boundaries, before he was caught and bowled by Hasan Ali.
Imrul Kayes fell shortly after, while Rahim was caught behind off the bowling of Afridi for 99, which came off 116 deliveries and included nine boundaries.
Bangladesh began to lose wickets in a hurry after Rahim’s dismissal and were eventually bowled out for 239.
Junaid was the pick of the bowlers with four wickets, while Afridi and Hasan snapped up two wickets apiece. As for Shadab Khan, he chipped in with one.
Chasing 240 to win, Pakistan were dealt a big blow on the fifth ball of their innings as opener Fakhar Zaman was caught by Rubel Hossain at mid-on off the bowling of Mehidy Hasan Miraz for one run.
Babar Azam was trapped lbw off the bowling of Mustafizur Rahman for one run, while captain Sarfraz Ahmed was caught behind off the bowling of Mustafizur for 10 runs.
With Pakistan in a similar position as Bangladesh at 18/3, Imam-ul-Haq and Shoaib Malik stabilised the innings with a 67-run stand before Malik was brilliantly caught by Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza off the bowling of Rubel for 30.
Shadab was removed soon after for four runs, but Imam and Asif Ali steadied the ship with a 71-run partnership before Asif was stumped by Liton off the bowling of Mehidy for 31.
Imam went on to score 83, which came off 105 balls and included two boundaries and a six, before he was stumped by Liton off the bowling of Mahmudullah.
Following Imam’s dismissal, Pakistan’s lower order collapsed and they ended up finishing on 202/9 off their 50 overs.
Mustafizur was the most successful bowler with four wickets, while Mehidy took two, and Rubel, Mahmudullah and Sarkar claimed one wicket each.
Sarfraz was frustrated to have lost, and said: “Not feeling good, but the performance wasn’t good. As a captain, I didn’t do well. So I think as a team and as a captain, I didn’t lead well. We didn’t field well, our batting collapsed and as a team we didn’t do well in any department. Fakhar was our main player, Shadab and Nawaz had opportunities, but we need to play well if we need to win against good teams. Our batting collapse hurt us. Shaheen is our plus point.”
Mortaza was delighted to have won, and said: “I think we changed our combination a bit. Usually I open the bowling, but today we started with Miraz. The bowlers did a good job, especially when we didn’t get the runs. But Mushi and Mithun batted really well. We can be proud of our fielding today. Long time we haven’t seen this quality of fielding in our time, so hopefully the boys can understand the value of good fielding.
“We still need to improve a bit of our batting and bowling. I was lucky that I didn’t drop my catch because Shoaib Malik was in such good form, but all over the fielding was really good. We always know that India are a serious side. We don’t have Shakib and Tamim but hopefully the boys can show their character on Friday.”
Rahim was named Man of the Match, and said: “It was important I kept belief in myself. And Mithun batted brilliantly too. I told him that we need to dig in after the early wickets. Credit goes to the way I practice and my preparation. That gives me confidence. I’m taking the right decisions more often.”