Pakistan beat Bangladesh here at the iconic Eden Gardens on Tuesday to garner their third win of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.
Pakistan cruised to a comfortable seven-wicket win in a game that finished in the 33rd over of their innings. Fakhar Zaman (81) and Abdullah Shafique (68) starred for them with authoritative fifties against Bangladesh.
In the first innings, Shaheen Afridi (3/23), Mohammad Wasim (3/31), and Haris Rauf (2/36) were the pick of Pakistan bowlers, as the pacers rallied together for the Men in Green to bowl Bangladesh all out for a modest total. For Bangladesh, Mahmudullah (56) and Shakib Al Hasan (43) showed fight with the bat.
Fakhar Zaman showed relentless form in the first Powerplay. The southpaw smacked four boundaries for Pakistan in this period. This included two exemplary sixes off the bowling of Taskin Ahmed and Mehidy Hasan Miraz, respectively.
He got good support from his partner, Abdullah Shafique, who garnered four stylish fours of his own in the first 10 overs.
Zaman and Shafique continued to make the most of a decent batting wicket and a good outfield. They churned out a series of fours and sixes as the Bangladesh shoulders dropped. Five sixes were added in the overs 11-20, as the duo added 72 runs.
Mehidy Hasan Miraz finally brought a breakthrough for Pakistan in the 22nd over, when he trapped Abdullah Shafique leg before for 68. However, Fakhar and Babar Azam ensured that Pakistan were right on track.
After the mid-innings mark, Mehidy struck twice to remove both Fakhar and Babar, but by then Pakistan were already well set to overtake the Bangladesh target.
In the first innings, Pakistan were right on the mark courtesy an incisive spell from Shaheen Afridi. He pinned Tanzid Hasan leg before off the fifth ball of the game. The batter reviewed, but it turned out that the ball was clipping the top of his leg stump.
In the very next over, Shaheen had the out-of-form Najmul Hossain Shanto caught at forward square leg. Usama Mir took a sharp catch at the position to give Pakistan their second breakthrough.
Litton Das tried to pick up the pace for Bangladesh with a flurry of boundaries against Haris Rauf. However, it was the pacer who had the last laugh, when he got the experienced Mushfiqur Rahim to nick one behind the wicket.
Mushfiqur was replaced by the in-form veteran Mahmudullah, who ensured that the Tigers didn’t get too bogged down by the early damages.
After the first Powerplay, Das and Mahmudullah took charge and hit a stream of boundaries. Their intent was backed by some erratic Pakistan bowling. The duo went at almost six an over between overs 11-20.
Against the run of play, Das gifted his wicket to Iftikhar Ahmed after he chipped one of his deliveries to the mid-wicket fielder.
Bangladesh batted conservatively over the next few overs, as Shakib Al Hasan tried to get in. Just when the batters looked like they were getting set, Mahmudullah (56) was cleaned up by a beauty from Shaheen.
Newcomer Tawhid Hridoy went gung-ho quite early in his innings, hitting a six off his second ball. However, this daredevilry cost him his wicket off the very next ball, as he nicked Usama Mir to the
Bangladesh finally picked up once more, when Shakib hit a hat-trick of boundaries in the 37th over against Iftikhar Ahmed.
However, any hopes of a Bangladesh resurgence ended when Shakib mistimed a pull off Haris Rauf and fell for 43. Bangladesh managed to cross the 200 run mark at the back of a stand between Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Taskin Ahmed, but strikes from Mohammad Wasim soon ended their time at the crease.
Earlier, Shakib Al Hasan opted to bat first after winning the toss. He believed that the pitch was dry, just the way it was in their last encounter against the Netherlands, and would offer turn. They made one change to the side that fell short against the Dutch – Mahedi Hasan was replaced by Tawhid Hridoy.
Pakistan, on the other hand, went in with three changes. Fakhar Zaman, Salman Agha and Usama Mir were in for Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan.
Bright starts for Pakistan and Bangladesh have all but faded away as both sides barely remain in contention for the knockout stage of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.
Bangladesh : 204 all out