Pakistan 167 for 5 (Rizwan 78*, Masood 31, Taskin 2-25) beat Bangladesh 146 for 8 (Yasir Ali 42*, Litton 35, Wasim 3-24, Nawaz 2-25) by 21 runs
Bangladesh sent Mehidy to open the batting, something they had tried in the Asia Cup, too. But it never really worked out, because nothing really worked for any Bangladesh batter. A couple of loose Mohammad Wasim overs aside, Pakistan’s pacers were all over them in the powerplay, exploiting high pace as well as the slower ball expertly to keep them guessing. Shadab might have been expensive, but Mohammad Nawaz took up the baton with a characteristically understated yet effective four-over spell. In his final over, he removed Litton Das and Mosaddek Hossain off consecutive balls, triggering a Bangladesh collapse.
Wasim would do the rest, taking two wickets in his final over. A few lusty blows brought the margin of defeat narrower, but the defeat had been assured well before it was officially confirmed for Bangladesh.
Regal Rizwan, routine Rizwan
A big contribution from Rizwan is part of the furniture for a Pakistan scorecard these days, and, back to where it all started for him two years ago, Rizwan simply picked up in Christchurch where he’d left off in Lahore. Content to play second fiddle to Babar in the first half of the powerplay, Rizwan got the ball rolling with a timed six over mid-off and found the fence in each of the following three overs.
When Babar fell, Masood took up the run-scoring reins, but almost imperceptibly, Rizwan was coasting along to another half-century. At every stage of the Pakistan innings – the mid-overs stall, a middle order collapse, the late acceleration, it was Rizwan who provided the impetus for Pakistan. When Masood and Haider Ali fell in quick succession, Rizwan held the innings together, bringing up his ninth half-century in 13 innings. With four overs to go, and the Pakistan innings seemingly caught in quicksand, a pair of boundaries against Mustafizur Rehman helped Pakistan plunder 16 from the over.
He seemed to be the only batter who could find a way to score runs off Taskin and was responsible for much of the carnage Pakistan inflicted in the final 24 balls. Once more, there might have been criticism around him starting too slowly, but 35 off his final 16 balls gave him a strike rate of 156 and saw Pakistan surge to a total they could just about defend.
Taskin takes Pakistan to task
Some of Pakistan’s stodginess could be put down to habitual conservatism, but that wouldn’t do justice to the role Taskin performed for Bangladesh. He was handed the ball in all three phases of the innings, opening the bowling and giving away just one in the first over, while keeping Rizwan and Babar to just seven in the fifth. Coming back nine overs later, Rizwan greeted him with a first-ball four, but canny use of both the shorter ball and the slower ball kept Pakistan’s batters off balance. Taskin has bulked up over the years and perhaps added a yard of pace to his game, which played a role in one rearing up to Haider a shade quicker than he expected, and drawing him into holing out at midwicket.
When Pakistan were flying at the death, Nurul would turn to him once more to keep a lid on, and Bangladesh’s spearhead would rise to the challenge. Despite a first-ball six, only ten came off that 19th over, the most economical of the final four overs. Hitting that hard length would come in handy for him once more to dismiss Asif Ali as Taskin rounded out his spell with 2 for 25 in four, preventing Pakistan from running away with it at the death.
The lopsidedness of the final scorecard belied the extent to which the first half of the two innings mirrored each other. After the 12th over, Bangladesh were 84 for two; Pakistan at that stage had been 91 for one. But where Pakistan kicked on soon after that, Bangladesh crumbled, losing four wickets for 12 runs off 14 balls. Nawaz, Shahnawaz Dahani and Shadab all found themselves among the wickets, and, like the air being let out of a balloon, all life hissed out of the contest. Pakistan needed to only go through the motions to get off to a winning start, and despite an entertaining final-over cameo from Yasir Ali, a comfortable Pakistan victory was assured.