Asia Cup 2014 Results: Afridi Does it Again as Pakistan Chase Down Huge Total Against Bangladesh to Enter Final
By Deepak Vikraman | March 5, 2014 4:24 AM EST
Bangladesh would have thought they were in a position to claw themselves back into Asia Cup 2014 final contention after posting an impressive 326 for three in their 50 overs - their highest ever ODI total.
But then, they did not expect Pakistan, with the somebody-stop-me Shahid Afridi, the man who won the game for his side against India on Sunday, yet again making the impossible seem simple, to pull off a sensational chase, and with it book a place in the final against Sri Lanka.
With the chase flailing, at 221 for five in the 42nd over, Pakistan needed a minor miracle to get home, and they got just that via the unstoppable blade of Afridi, who thumped the Bangladesh bowlers for 59 from just 25 balls, in a match-turning innings which included two fours and a stunning seven sixes, with Umar Akmal taking Pakistan to 329 for seven in the end with one ball to spare.
Ahmed Shehzad, after a sedate start, set up the chase with a 123-ball 103, with Mohammed Hafeez (52, 55b, 8x4), opening the innings in the absence of Sharjeel Khan, giving his partner good company as Pakistan put on 97 runs for the first wicket.
Hafeez's wicket triggered a mini-collapse as Pakistan went from 97 for none to 105 for three with Sohaib Maqsood and skipper Misbah-ul-Haq also following suit quickly.
However, Fawad Alam (74, 70b, 4x4, 2x6) built a brilliant partnership worth 105 in just a little over 15 overs with Shehzad, before Afridi's pyrotechnics towards the end - in a partnership of 69 from 33 balls with Alam -- and Umar Akmal's (14, 9b) finishing prowess proved to be too much of a mountain to climb for the beleaguered Bangladesh, who were desperate for their first win in the Asia Cup, but now find themselves out of contention for the final along with India and Afghanistan.
Earlier, it was a near-perfect ODI innings really - the openers set a platform for the rest of the batting order to go six-crazy in the final 15 overs. Under huge pressure, the Bangladesh batting needed to step up and the onus first fell on the openers Mominul Haque and Imrul Kayes, who was among five changes in the team.
It could have been disaster for Kayes and Bangladesh had Pakistan hung onto a catch in the first over, though. Mohammed Hafeez bowled a perfect off-spinner to the left-hander which turned and took the outside edge, but Ahmed Shehzad at first slip could not hang onto the ball.
That miss proved to be extremely costly as the openers took full advantage putting on a partnership worth 150 for the first wicket. While the pace of the scoring was not sensational, at 5.24 runs an over, it was more than enough to allow the coming batsmen to push on without too much fear and with it put the much-vaunted Pakistan attack, including the seemingly unhittable Saeed Ajmal, who went for 52 runs from his last four overs thanks to the brilliance from Mushfiqur Rahim.
Pakistan were also hampered by the fact that Abdur Rahman could not bowl any legal deliveries in an unbelievable circumstance, with the spinner finishing with figures of 0-0-8-0. Drafted in place of pace bowler Junaid Khan, Rahman was expected to act as a perfect foil for Ajmal and Hafeez, but was never given an opportunity, as the offie bowled three straight over-the-waist full-tosses in his first three deliveries, prompting Johan Cloete to ban the bowler from bowling anymore in the innings.
It was yet another gift in an innings of gifts for Bangladesh, as Mominul Haque (51, 47b, 6x4) picked up from where Kayes (59, 75b, 5x4, 2x6) left off, putting on 54 for the second wicket with Anamul (100, 132b, 6x4, 4x6), before the latter, after completing his second ODI hundred, fell to Ajmal.
Bangladesh were on 204 for one in 39.1 overs at that time, and the onslaught was just beginning, with Mushfiqur (51, 33b, 8x4) smashing the ball with disdain, while Shakib thank-heavens-I'm-done-with-my-three-match-ban Al Hasan scorched the Pakistani bowlers into submission with a 44 from just 16 deliveries (6x4, 2x6).
The home side managed to score a massive 121 runs in the final 60 balls to post their highest ever ODI score, but with Afridi in the mood that he was in and Pakistan refusing to relinquish their place in the final, it proved to be mere consolation.
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