DHAKA: Bangladesh qualified for the final of the Asia Cup after beating Pakistan by five wickets on Wednesday.
Pakistan recovered from 28-4 to post 129-7, before Bangladesh reached a winning total of 131-5 in 19.1 overs. Mahmudullah secured victory, and a place in Sunday’s final against India, with a deep mid-wicket boundary.
Mahmudullah was unbeaten on 22, but Soumya Sarkar (48) provided the platform for the victory.
Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Amir had figures 2-26 and kept his side’s hopes alive until Mashrafe Mortaza (12 not out) hit him for two consecutive boundaries in the 18th over.
Those two boundaries off a searing yorker and a bouncer came after Shakib Al Hasan perished to a reverse sweep shot, piling the pressure on Pakistan.
With 18 runs needed in the last two overs, fast bowler Mohammad Sami conceded two no-balls, one of which Mahmudullah cut past the point to hit the boundary. It left Bangladesh needing just three runs to win in the last over.
Mahmudullah, who was at the crease during Bangladesh’s two-run defeat by Pakistan in the 2012 Asia Cup final, then hit a boundary to the wild delight of the home crowd.
However, Sarkar’s run-a-ball 48 against a high-quality Pakistan attack, despite losing Tamim Iqbal for seven and in-form Sabbir Rahman for 14, was the key to Bangladesh’s success.
Earlier, Sarfraz Ahmed led Pakistan’s recovery with an unbeaten 58. He and Shoaib Malik, who scored 41, combined in a 70-run partnership for the fifth wicket.
Electing to bat first, Pakistan was 28-4 after 10 overs, before the duo counterattacked to give the bowlers a decent total to defend.
Bangladesh fast bowler Al-Amin Hossain claimed 3-25 and caused the early damage for Pakistan, helped by his new-ball partner Taskin Ahmed, 1-14.
Left-arm spinner Arafat Sunny finished with 2-35.
Here is the 8th match of Asia Cup 2016 played between Bangladesh and Pakistan at Dhaka today. Bangladesh have registered two back-to-back victories that have boosted their confidence. On the other side, Pakistan seems to have lost all belief in themselves after their defeat from India. During their last match against UAE, this crestfallen sense was quite visible from their overall body language. They barely managed to win the game against UAE, the weakest team of the tournament. Today’s game, in a sense, is equivalent to the semi-final because most likely the winner of this match will play against India in the final of the tournament.
Toss: Pakistan won the toss and decided to bat first.
For Bangladesh, the absence of their main strike bowler, Mustafizur Rahaman, must be a matter of concern because bowling has so far played a decisive role in the tournament. Bangladesh will need an aggressive and capable bowling attack because of Pakistan’s historic vulnerability in batting that resorts to collapsing in high-pressure games. Otherwise Pakistan possesses the best bowling attack that has the capacity to restrict Bangladesh to a smaller total. This is why their only chance of victory lies in disciplined bowling which gets active support from all the fielders.
For Pakistan, Mohammad Amir’s supreme form is a good omen because his aggression in bowling puts the opposition under pressure. Mohammad Ifran and Sami, both have done a decent job. However the spinners have failed to make an impact. So we would suggest that Pakistan needs to enter the arena with four specialist fast bowlers. Wahab Riaz can be the fourth seamer for the team because of the brilliant recent record.
Their sheepish and non-professional approach to batting is, however, is the biggest puzzle for the team management. The top order is especially to be blamed because it has failed to give the team a decent start and fall of early wickets results in ripples of nervousness that also engulf the healthy middle order. A good start by the openers is the key to victory for Pakistan who badly want to play against India in the finals to settle their scores.
Pitch & Conditions: Mirpur surface is likely to favor seam bowling but a professional approach by the batsmen will also be rewarded by this pitch. A cautious but confident batting should be the advice for the batsmen from both the teams. Their is no forecast of rain during the match.