Haris Rauf bowled six impactful overs full of scary pace, skiddy lengths and relentless accuracy, which restricted Bangladesh to 193.
After that, Imam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Rizwan finished the small chase off within 40 overs as Pakistan started their Asia Cup Super Four campaign with a convincing win. With that, Pakistan got two points, and more crucially, a healthy net run-rate.
Bangladesh’s innings, after they had opted to bat, had started with Shaheen Shah Afridi beating Mohammad Naim off the first two balls – first on the outside edge, then on the inside – and Naseem Shah having Mehidy Hasan Miraz chipping to square leg to start the second over. The innings ended with Naseem getting the last two wickets within four balls in the 39th over. In between, it was all about Rauf making the Bangladesh batters look almost clueless.
In a worrying moment for Pakistan in the seventh over of Bangladesh’s innings, Naseem walked off the field after hurting his right shoulder after putting in a dive at the fine-leg boundary.
Pakistan 194 for 3 (Imam 78, Rizwan 63*, Shoriful 1-24) beat Bangladesh 193 (Mushfiqur 64, Shakib 53, Rauf 4-19, Naseem 3-34) by seven wickets
Replacing Naseem to start the eighth over, all it took Rauf was three balls to strike. He bowled a hard length while angling it into Naim from around the wicket, and Naim’s attempted pull only resulted in a return catch off the top edge.
While that was bowled at 140kph, Rauf pushed it further and cleaned Towhid Hridoy up to start the tenth over. It was a bit of a dream ball: a perfect combination of good length and movement, angled into the right-hander at 145kph, as the ball straightened to crash into middle and off. The powerplay was not even done, and Bangladesh were 47 for 4.
What followed was a fighting century stand between the senior pair of Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim. Despite the situation they started from, the first 44 runs took only 61 balls to come.
Fortunately for Pakistan, though, Naseem was back on the field by then and returned to bowl the 18th over.
Come the 20th, good fortune went Shakib’s way when on 32, when he gloved a pull just over the wicketkeeper. And two deliveries later, he was dropped by Naseem, as the bowler couldn’t hold on to a leading edge. It was a relatively simple chance to his right despite Naseem being in his follow-through.
A settled Shakib got to his fifty to start the 28th over, but exactly two overs later, he pulled a short ball from Faheem Ashraf to deep square-leg. Mushfiqur got to his half-century two balls later, and though he quickly added 27 with Shamim Hossain, Bangladesh collapsed from 174 for 5 to 193 all out.
Two of those five wickets went to Rauf, off successive deliveries in the 38th over. Mushfiqur threw it away on 64 by skipping down and edging behind off the second ball, while Taskin Ahmed also tickled to Rizwan. Naseem wrapped the innings up with the wickets of Afif Hossain and Shoriful Islam.
The Bangladesh bowlers started the defence well. The first five overs fetched only 12 runs for Imam and Fakhar Zaman, before a floodlight failure stopped play for about 20 minutes.
The break seemed to work in the batters’ favour. Fakhar pulled Shoriful for four before Imam hit three boundaries off Taskin in the seventh over.
But otherwise, Shoriful mostly kept them quiet, even trapping Fakhar for 20 in the final over of the powerplay. Hasan Mahmud also tested the batters with his lines. He convinced Shakib to review a not-out lbw decision when Imam was on 16 in the 11th over. Replays showed the ball was pitching outside leg, exactly the verdict Bangladesh would get when Shakib reviewed another not-out lbw call – this time off Taskin, with Imam on 23 in the 14th over.
Relatively sedate on 26 off his first 38 balls, Imam got a lucky boundary when Taskin misfielded at fine leg, only to neatly pull Mahmud next ball for six. Two overs later, Babar Azam was out inside-edging Taskin off one that kept low, before Imam enjoyed further fortune.
Given out lbw off Mehidy’s first ball – Bangladesh introduced spin as late as the 19th over – Imam, by then on 39, reviewed and got it overturned, with replays showing the ball heading down the leg side. Imam raised his fifty with a six over midwicket off Mehidy not long after.
His innings of 78 featured five fours and four sixes – he was finally bowled by Mehidy – even as Rizwan, at the other end, ended undefeated on a patient 63 from 79 balls despite having hit a four and six each off his first ten deliveries.
Pakistan next play India in Colombo, with the Asia Cup’s Pakistan leg coming to an end on Wednesday.