Pakistani pacers rattle Bangladesh top batters in Asia Cup Super Four clash
By News Desk
September 6, 2023 12:56 PM
Pakistan's lethal bowling arsenal demonstrated its prowess against Bangladesh in the opening match of the Cricket Asia Cup 2023 Super Four round, by reducing the Bengali Tigers to 47 for fours in the 10th over. Naseem Shah struck early, dismissing Mehidy Hasan Miraz, the star of Bangladesh's previous game, without a run. His shorter delivery, although not immediately threatening, deceived Miraz, allowing Fakhar Zaman an easy catch at square leg, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
This was followed by Shaheen Shah Afridi's stellar bowling, taking out Litton Das for a brisk 16 after a brilliant delivery caught him off guard, resulting in an edge to wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan.
Just as Bangladesh was grappling with the initial setbacks, Haris Rauf stepped in to further boost Pakistan's momentum. He achieved his 50th ODI wicket, claiming Mohammad Naim with a swift delivery. Naim's mistimed shot, coupled with Rauf's agile fielding, led to his dismissal at 20 runs. With these key wickets, Bangladesh found themselves at 45/3 in just 7.3 overs, tilting the match in Pakistan's favour.
Haris Rauf delivered a fast-paced delivery at 145kph, effectively dismissing Towhid Hridoy. The ball, perfectly pitched with just the right movement and pace, angled into Hridoy, catching him off guard. Hridoy attempted a flick but was outpaced, leading the ball to hit the middle and off stumps. He departed with just 2 runs from 9 balls, pushing Mushfiqur Rahim to come in at No. 6, earlier than anticipated.
Earlier, in the first match of the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup 2023, Bangladesh has chosen to set the pace by opting to bat first against the world's top-ranked team, Pakistan, at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore.
The coin toss revealed Bangladesh's intent to set a competitive score and put pressure on Pakistan's famed batting lineup. However, the Pakistan’s feared pace battery may give the Bengali Tigers a testing time.
The ambiance at the iconic Gaddafi Stadium is electric, as Pakistan and Bangladesh set the stage for the first match of the Super Fours in Asia Cup 2023. The tournament, which began with six fierce competitors, now sees Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka battling for the title.
Pakistan, led by Babar Azam, delivered a spectacular performance against Nepal, clinching victory by a staggering 238 runs. Babar Azam and Iftikhar Ahmed's centuries proved too hot to handle for the Nepali side. Pakistan's bowling unit, especially Shadab Khan, was a revelation, netting four wickets. In their subsequent face-off against India, Pakistani fast bowlers seemed to be in formidable form, restricting India to a precarious 66/4. However, Hardik Pandya and Ishan Kishan managed to steer India to a total of 267. The rain, however, played spoilsport, and the match was inevitably abandoned.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, commenced their Asia Cup journey on a less promising note. Sri Lanka dismantled their batting order, restricting them to 164. Despite Shakib Al Hasan's valiant efforts, the Tigers conceded defeat with 11 overs to spare. Facing a must-win situation against Afghanistan, Bangladeshi batsmen Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Najmul Hossain Shanto came to the rescue, each scoring a century, and setting a target of 335. The Afghan side was eventually bowled out for 245.
As these two titans clash, the spotlight will inevitably fall on Pakistan's Fakhar Zaman and Bangladesh's Shoriful Islam. Zaman's recent ODI outings have been modest, but given his potential, Bangladesh would be wary. Shoriful Islam, the young left-arm pacer, boasts an impressive tally of 30 wickets from 19 ODIs, an indicator of his lethal prowess.
Ahead of the fixture, team selections have stirred curiosity. Pakistan announced a solitary change, bringing in medium-pacer Faheem Ashraf in place of left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz. This strategic decision possibly stems from Bangladesh's strong repertoire of left-handed batsmen.
Bangladesh is also expected to make a pivotal change. With Litton Das regaining fitness, the top-order batsman is poised to replace Shanto. The key question remains: Will Das open the innings, or will the honor go to Mehidy Hasan Miraz, especially after his recent ton against Afghanistan?
The pitch at Gaddafi Stadium is renowned for favouring batters, evident from the past matches. With the mercury expected to hover around the mid-30s, the day promises to be sweltering.
A glance at the statistics reveals some intriguing insights. Bangladesh's record in Pakistan is less than flattering; they've yet to claim a victory across all formats. Pakistan's pace spearhead, Shaheen Shah Afridi, boasts a remarkable ODI average, making him a force to reckon with. Moreover, wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan stands on the brink of a personal milestone, one catch away from his 50th ODI catch behind the stumps.
Pakistan's skipper, Babar Azam, wasn’t disappointed by the toss outcome. He highlighted the pitch's grassy nature, hinting at a potential advantage for their pace bowlers, especially under the floodlights. "We observed the conditions assisting the fast bowlers during last night's game. Hence, the inclusion of an additional fast bowler in our lineup." Babar mentioned.
The captain also spoke about the team's collective anticipation for the game and expressed his personal aspirations without letting it overshadow the ultimate goal, "While breaking records is appealing, the team's victory remains paramount."
Captain Shakib Al Hasan expressed his team's ambition, stating, "If we put runs on the board, it will exert pressure on them. While our performance against Afghanistan was commendable, today we confront the world's No. 1 team. We're cognizant of their strengths and weaknesses, and while the challenge is formidable, we are prepared." Shakib also confirmed that Litton would be stepping in, replacing Shanto.
The sweltering heat in Lahore will certainly challenge the players, especially the Pakistani side, as they field first. Given the demanding travel schedule and the sheer volume of ODIs they've been involved in lately, Babar emphasized the team’s strategy to ensure their bowlers remain in optimal condition. "The soaring temperatures and the rigorous gameplay are tough. We've plans in place to ensure our fast bowlers, especially, are well taken care of," Babar stated.
Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam (capt), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Agha Salman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf.
Bangladesh: Mohammad Naim, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Litton Das, Towhid Hridoy, Shakib Al Hasan (capt), Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Shamim Hossain, Afif Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Shoriful Islam, Hasan Mahmud.