Kolkata: A superb all-round display by skipper Shahid Afridi saw Pakistan register an emphatic 55 run victory against Bangladesh who finished 146/6 chasing an imposing target of 202 in their World Twenty20 group encounter at the Eden Gardens here on Wednesday.
Pacer Mohammad Amir and Afridi who had earlier sizzled with the bat scoring 49 picked up two scalps each. For Bangladesh Shakib Al Hasan top scored with an unbeaten 50.
Chasing Pakistan’s total of 201/5, Bangladesh got off to a rocky start as Mohammad Amir jolted Bangladesh by bowling Soumya Sarkar (0) in the very first over. Sabbir Rahman and Tamim Iqbal then got together to build a brief partnership.
Rahman played the role of the aggressor hitting five fours en route to his brisk 25. Shahid Afridi then crashed his stumps as he played down the wrong line.
Afridi then picked up the dangerous Tamim (24) and left arm spinner Iman Wasim followed it up with the wicket of Mahmudullah (4) which left Bangladesh struggling at 71/4 in the 11th over.
Things got worse as the Bangladesh batsmen failed to even rotate the strike. In the last six overs they still needed 109 to win.
It did not get easy for them thereafter as Pakistan speedsters Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Irfan kept on bowling in very good areas. Shakib tried hard but by then the game had slipped away from their grasp.
Pakistan pegged back the rivals further by picking up Mushfiqur Rahim (18) and Mohammad Mithun (2) and then quite easily sealed the deal.
Earlier in the day, a brilliant 42-ball 64 by Mohammad Hafeez and a blistering Shahid Afridi (49 from 19 balls) ensured Pakistan posted an imposing total.
Ahmed Shehzad was the other major contributor (52) as Afridi rolled back the years at the Eden Gardens. Taskin Ahmed returned figures of 32/2 for Bangladesh.
After electing to bat, Pakistan got off to a strong start as openers Sharjeel Khan and Shehzad took the attack to the opposition.
Sharjeel in the second over clubbed pacer Al Amin Hossain for two massive sixes. The first one was clipped off his hips and the next was a straight blow. He then finished the over with a smack to the ropes, gathering 18 runs off it.
However, Arafat Sunny struck back in the next by cleaning up Sharjeel.
Hafeez (52) who joined Shehzad in the middle was quick to get into his groove too. He started off by hitting a six and then pushed hard between the wickets for quick singles.
Both batsmen looked at ease on the batting-friendly wicket at the Eden and latched onto anything short or full, smashing them to the fence.
At the end of the 10th over Pakistan were coasting with a run rate of 9 runs per over. Four overs later Bangladesh struck back by breaking the Shehzad-Hafeez partnership of 95 runs.
But then Afridi walked in the middle much to the delight of the spectators. And he did not disappoint as he clobbered his opposite number Mashrafe Mortaza for 18 runs in an over.
Hafeez was soon dismissed, brilliantly caught in the deep by Soumya Sarkar, who showed presence of mind and balance to catch the ball inside the boundary then tipped over but quickly re-entered the field to complete the catch.
In the last two overs Bangladesh gave away 25 runs ensuring Pakistan got a formidable total even as Umar Akmal and Bangladesh’s Tamim Iqbal had a verbal spat forcing the umpires to intervene.