Afridi’s five leads rout of Bangladesh

ESPN News Dec 01, 2011: Pakistan’s battery of spinners used the considerable bounce and turn in the Mirpur pitch to exploit the inadequate temperaments and techniques of Bangladesh’s batsmen, routing them for 91 to set up what should have been a facile victory in the first of three one-day internationals. It wasn’t (Bangladesh Cricket Board).

Pakistan made a mess of chasing the small target, which Bangladesh defended spiritedly. They lost more wickets and took longer than they would have liked, as the match sparked to life before victory was finally achieved with plenty of overs to spare.

To subdue and wreck Bangladesh, Misbah-ul-Haq used four spinners – Mohammad Hafeez, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik and Saeed Ajmal – for 22.3 out of 30.3 overs, and they had combined figures of 8 for 56. Though Afridi emerged the star, taking his seventh five-wicket haul in ODIs, the Bangladesh innings was rotting before he came on to bowl.

Pakistan’s chase had also begun to rot when Afridi came to bat at 63 for 5 in the 18th over. His innings wasn’t pretty, but it cured Pakistan of the yips and secured the series lead.

The match began with Mushfiqur Rahim wining the toss, but little went right for Bangladesh after that. It was inevitable that Hafeez would take the first new ball, especially with two left-hand openers, and he had immediate success.

Tamim Iqbal, who returned to the team after recovering from a knee injury, moved across his stumps and was trapped on the back foot by a delivery that darted into him from round the wicket. Hafeez’s wicket maiden set the tone for the rest of the innings.

Umar Gul had first use of the other new ball, and though there was little assistance from the pitch for the fast bowler, the Bangladesh batsmen couldn’t get the ball off the square. They had scored only 2 after 5.2 overs when Naeem Islam hit one past Gul to the straight boundary. He edged the next ball to slip.

Against spin, Bangladesh were stagnant. Hafeez tormented Shahriar Nafees, who would score only 2 off his first 23 deliveries. He found the left-hand batsman’s outside edge three times – two fell short of Younis Khan at first slip, and one flew wide.

Bangladesh doubled their score in the eighth over, which they began on 8 for 2. Gul bowled a high bouncer over Mushfiqur’s head for five wides, and was clipped towards deep square leg for three. The first proper forceful shot was in the tenth over, when Nafees cut Gul to the backward-point boundary. Bangladesh were 26 for 2 after the mandatory Powerplay.

Misbah then made a double bowling change, bringing on the leg spinner Afridi and the off spinner Malik. It was Malik who struck first, getting Mushfiqur to edge an attempted cut to the wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed; the extra bounce was the Bangladesh captain’s undoing. Afridi then struck twice. In his second over, the 13th of the innings, Afridi used the extra bounce to have Nafees caught at point while trying to cut off. Two balls later he bowled a leg break that spun sharply and took the outside edge of Mahmudullah’s forward defence. Bangladesh were 31 for 5 and the world’s No.1 one-day bowler, Ajmal, hadn’t been used yet.

Shakib Al Hasan and Nasir Hossain began to repair the substantial damage but they had miles to go to get the job done. They didn’t get far. Their partnership was worth 36 when Hossain attempted to pull a delivery from Aizaz Cheema that wasn’t that short. Hossain was unbalanced as he made contact and the top edge swirled towards square leg, where Sarfraz held it.

Only Shakib remained for Bangladesh and he too fell to the cut, caught at point off Afridi. At 71 for 7, the end was only a matter of time. Afridi took two more to complete his five-for, and didn’t even stop to celebrate his success with his trademark star-man pose.

There was little sign of the tension that would briefly grip Pakistan’s chase when their openers came out before the session break and added 36 in nine overs. Imran Farhat then played on to Nasir Hossain, beginning a phase in which four wickets fell in four successive overs for eight runs. Younis Khan was perhaps unlucky to be given caught behind but the rest fell to soft dismissals.

Misbah then batted with the sole aim of steering Pakistan to the break without losing another wicket. He edged a couple but dead-batted most of his first 16 deliveries, remaining scoreless. And then he slammed Shakib for a huge six over wide long-on, easing the pressure as Pakistan went into a 40-minute interval on 58 for 4, needing 34 more.

Umar Akmal was bowled by Shakib in the first over after play resumed. He was trying to cut as well. The crowd that had grown increasingly vocal as Pakistan slipped roared once more. For the final time, though, because Afridi silenced them. He made use of Nafees dropping him at slip off Shakib and hit three consecutive fours off the same bowler to drive Pakistan to the verge of victory. Afridi then edged Shakib wide of slip to finish the game as the highest wicket-taker and the top run-scorer. He had made only 24.

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