After winning the toss on another humid day in Abu Dhabi, Mashrafe Mortaza decided to bat first at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium. His decision seemed to backfire after pacers Shaheen Afridi and Junaid Khan left Bangladesh reeling at 12-3.
But it was the fourth-wicket 144-run stand between Mushfiqur Rahim and Mohammad Mithun that proved pivotal as Bangladesh were all out for 239. Rahim became the first Bangladeshi to fall for 99 while Mithun hit 60.
Junaid, who replaced out-of-form Mohammad Amir, justified his selection and finished the game with figures of 4-19.
In their chase, Pakistan were reeling 18-3 after three overs. Imam-Ul-Haq scored 83 but left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman landed critical blows to finish with 4-43 as Pakistan were restricted to 202-9.
RAHIM’S HEROIC BATTING
The 31-year-old was unfortunate not to reach triple figures for the second time in the tournament after he fell for 99. Just like against Sri Lanka in the opening victory, Bangladesh were in trouble but Rahim used all his experience to once again rescue them. During his 116-ball innings, Rahim hit nine fours and rotated the strike with singles and twos to keep the scoreboard ticking.
SHAHEEN AFRIDI’S RISE
Junaid’s display will be one of the positives that Pakistan can take. But they will also be encouraged by the way Shaheen Afridi, who made his ODI debut against Afghanistan last Friday, has developed. At 18, there’s still a long way to go before he’s the finished article but his figures of 2-47, including the prized wicket of Rahim, should fill the team management with hopes of a bright future.
BANGLADESH’S TOP THREE FAIL AGAIN
For the fourth consecutive match in the competition, Bangladesh’s top-order struggled to get off to a strong start. Soumya Sarkar replaced young opener Nazmul Hossain. But he, Liton Das and Mominul Haque fell to pace inside the first four overs. If it wasn’t for the 144-run fourth-wicket stand between Rahim and Mithun, the 2012 and 2016 runners-up would have been on the wrong side of the result.
SARFRAZ’S POOR FIELDING AND BOWLING DECISIONS
After their dream start, it seemed it was only a matter of time before more wickets would fall. However, Sarfraz turned to the spin trio of Shadab Khan, Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Nawaz for 13 consecutive overs with neither proving successful. To make matters worse, Sarfraz did not have a slip even though Hasan Ali had induced an edge.
Sarfraz has allowed the game to drift...rated him highly as a skipper post the Champions Trophy success. He’s looked a patch of that in this #AsiaCup— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) September 26, 2018
2.5 – WICKET: Junaid makes an instant impact with his short ball deceiving Soumya Sarkar for a duck.
4.2 – WICKET: Tigers’ batting frailties show again, losing their third wicket with Junaid rattling Das’ stumps. Bangladesh struggling at 12-3.
25.4 – CENTURY STAND: Rahim takes two runs for a vital 100-run stand with Mithun.
32.2 –150-RUN STAND: Rahim and Mithun go from strength to strength – bringing up the 150-run partnership.
41.4 – WICKET: Rahim falls one run short of his century, edging Afridi to Sarfraz Ahmed.
3.3 – WICKET: The Men in Green are in big trouble at 18-3 with Sarfraz becoming Rahman’s second scalp of the day.
20.1 – WICKET: A big one for Bangladesh with Malik chipping to midwicket as Mortaza pulls off a stunning diving catch.
33.1 – CHANCE: Asif Ali survives and has stand-in wicket-keeper Das to thank after his edge bounces off the keeper’s gloves.
40.5 – WICKET: Imam comes down the track but is deceived by a seam-up ball from Mahmudullah and is stumped.
KEY TURNING POINT
BANGLADESH’S START WITH THE BALL
Having endured a poor start themselves, Bangladesh gave Pakistan a taste of their own medicine as Rahman and Mehidy Hasan dismissed Fakar Zaman, Babar Azam and Sarfraz Ahmed in the first three overs. It was the worst possible start for Pakistan, whose batsman haven’t been firing in the UAE and ultimately those wickets put Bangladesh in the driving seat.
BANGLADESH – A
There are still concerns over the form of their top-order batsmen that need to be addressed going into Friday’s final but their bowlers raised their game when it mattered. They never let Pakistan take control of the game after their dominant start and took their chances in the field.
PAKISTAN – D
A performance that summed up their whole tournament. Apart from Imam, none of the batsmen took responsibility. Their poor start with the bat added to the pressure and their flaws were exposed once the Tigers applied enough pressure. Plenty of areas that needs examining with the World Cup eight months away.
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