Pakistan dominates Bangladesh in Asia Cup Super Four opener

AFP

Pakistan launched their Asia Cup Super Four campaign with a resounding victory against Bangladesh, as Haris Rauf's menacing pace and precision bowling spearheaded their triumph.

His six influential overs held Bangladesh to a modest 193 runs, setting the stage for Pakistan's comfortable chase, which was expertly guided by Imam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Rizwan.

Rauf's fiery spells kept Bangladesh's batsmen on their toes throughout the innings.

Opting to bat first, Bangladesh found themselves in early trouble when Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah struck in the first two overs. The pressure persisted as Rauf relentlessly maintained his skiddy lengths and impeccable accuracy, making it challenging for the Bangladeshi batters to find their footing.

In the seventh over of Bangladesh's innings, a worrying moment unfolded for Pakistan as Shah sustained a right shoulder injury while diving at the fine-leg boundary. However, he later returned to the field and continued to contribute to Pakistan's dominant performance.

Rauf's intimidating pace claimed its first victim in the eighth over when he dismissed Mohammad Naim with a top-edge catch, setting the tone for Bangladesh's early collapse. Towhid Hridoy fell victim to a dream delivery from Rauf in the tenth over, as the ball straightened and crashed into the stumps, leaving Bangladesh reeling at 47 for 4 in the powerplay.

Despite the dire situation, Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim displayed resilience with a century partnership, defying Rauf's relentless assault. Shakib rode his luck on 32 when he gloved a pull just over the wicketkeeper, and two deliveries later, he survived a drop catch by Shah.

Shakib eventually reached his fifty, but his innings was cut short when he pulled a short ball from Faheem Ashraf to deep square-leg. Mushfiqur Rahim continued to battle and reached his half-century before Bangladesh's lower order crumbled under Shah's bowling, culminating in their dismissal for 193.

Rauf's brilliance was further exemplified by taking two wickets off successive deliveries in the 38th over, dismantling Mushfiqur and Taskin Ahmed. Shah wrapped up Bangladesh's innings by claiming the wickets of Afif Hossain and Shoriful Islam.

In pursuit of their target, Pakistan faced early challenges from Bangladesh's bowlers, with the opening five overs yielding only 12 runs. A brief interruption due to a floodlight failure halted play for about 20 minutes, and upon resumption, Pakistan's batsmen appeared rejuvenated.

Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman showcased their intent, with Fakhar pulling Shoriful for four and Imam striking three boundaries off Taskin in the seventh over. However, Shoriful's disciplined bowling eventually dismissed Fakhar for 20 in the final over of the powerplay.

Imam-ul-Haq faced a stern test from Hasan Mahmud, surviving a close lbw call on 16 in the 11th over. Shakib Al Hasan's review revealed that the ball was pitching outside leg, sparing Imam. He capitalised on this reprieve, reaching his fifty with a six over midwicket off Mehidy Hasan Miraz.

Imam's innings of 78, featuring five fours and four sixes, was brought to an end by Mehidy Hasan Miraz, while Mohammad Rizwan remained unbeaten on 63 off 79 balls, steering Pakistan to a convincing victory within 40 overs. 

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