Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Mushfiqur, Mustafizur star as Bangladesh defy odds to reach Asia Cup final with Pakistan win

  • Sports Correspondent,
    Published: 2018-09-26 17:29:56 BdST

Photo: ACC

Bangladesh live to fight another day after Mustafizur Rahman’s four-wicket haul following a brilliant 99 by Mushfiqur Rahim propelled them into the Asia Cup final with a 37-run victory over Pakistan.

Defending a below-par 239, the Tigers, unfazed by the absence of key opener Tamim Iqbal, restricted Pakistan to 202 for nine in 50 overs in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

The target of 240 proved tricky for Pakistan as they lost Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam and skipper Sarfraz Ahmed for 18 runs inside the first four overs – much like their opposition faltered at the start.

Shoab Malik (30) and Imam-Ul-Haq (83) revived the chase with a 67-run partnership for the fourth wicket to keep their team in the hunt.

Photo: ACC

Photo: ACC

Until Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza took a brilliant diving catch at midwicket when Malik tried to chip Rubel Hossain in the 21st over and turned the game on its head.

Imam then stitched another crucial partnership with Asif Ali (31) to reignite hopes of a comeback.

Imam remained solid at one end but wickets continued to tumble at the other. He eventually crumbled under pressure and was stumped off Mahmudullah for 83.

Photo: ACC

Photo: ACC

Bangladesh’s bowlers and fielders put up a gritty show and proved too much for the lower middle-order to register their maiden win in the Asia Cup against Pakistan in the 50-over format.

Left-arm pacer Mustafizur with 4 for 43 and off-spinner Mehidy Hasan Miraz with 2 for 28 provided breakthroughs at crucial moments for the Tigers.

Photo: ACC

Photo: ACC

Earlier, Mushiqur partnered with Mohammad Mithun to pull the team from the abyss after the team were reduced to 12 for 3 inside 6 overs.

Mushfiqur fell agonisingly one shy of what would have been his second century in the tournament and seventh in ODIs. He tried to drive Shaheen Afridi to reach the hundred but got an edge through to wicketkeeper Sarfraz.

Junaid Khan was the most successful Pakistan bowler with 4 for 19 runs.

Bangladesh unravelled after Mushfiqur was out in the 42nd over, losing their last five wickets for 42 runs to be bundled out with seven balls to go.

They fell in trouble after losing first three batsmen in successive overs. Junaid gave Pakistan the breakthrough by taking recalled opener Soumya Sarker out for a duck in the third over.

Photo: ACC

Photo: ACC

He struck again in the sixth over to remove opener Liton Das (6), after Mominul Haque (5) was bowled by Afridi.

It looked like another batting debacle was on the cards as Shakib Al Hasan had been ruled out before the game with a recurrent finger injury.

Mushfiqur then came to the rescue. He fashioned a glorious 144-run partnership with Mithun for the fourth wicket.

This is the highest fourth-wicket stand for the Tigers against Pakistan, surpassing 110 by Athar Ali Khan and Akram Khan in 1997.

Their stand broke when Mithun played across the line and was caught and bowled by Hasan Ali.

Junaid also took the vital wickets of Mahmudullah (25) and Miraz (12).

Photo: ACC

Photo: ACC

Mashrafe had won the toss in the last Super Four match and elected to bat first.

Bangladesh made three changes to the side. Nazmul Hossain Shanto and Nazmul Islam Apu were dropped.

Mominul, Soumya and Rubel returned to the eleven.