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Pakistan clinch thrilling last-gasp win to seal series sweep against Bangladesh

  • Syed Mahmud Onindo,
    Published: 2021-11-22 16:28:15 BdST

Pakistan put up a resilient show in a last-ball thriller to prevail over Bangladesh by five wickets and sweep the T20 series 3-0 as the Tigers sank to their eighth straight defeat in the format.

Chasing a modest 125 for the win, Pakistan’s top order reached 117 for 2 in 19 overs before Mahmudullah’s triple strike shot down Pakistan’s momentum in the final over at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium on Monday.

Defending 7 runs in the final over, Mahmudullah brought himself on and spun through Sarfaraz Ahmed (6) and Haider Ali (54) in successive balls. As Iftikhar Ahmed launched a 90-metre six, the equation boiled down to 2 runs required off the same number of deliveries.

Mahmudullah exacted revenge in the next ball spinning up a catch to leave Pakistan teetering on 123 for five. Drama followed when Mahmudullah released his next ball only to see Mohammad Nawaz (4), the new batsmen, pull away at the last moment with the ball crashing into his stumps.

Sportsmanship prevailed as Mahmudullah and his men let go of any claims for a wicket as the batsmen offered no shot, which he did in the last ball - a drive over the covers to secure the win.

Following the departure of opener Babar Azam (19) off legbreak bowler Aminul Islam, the foundation of the chase was forged by Mohammad Rizwan (40) and Haider (45), who paired for 51 runs in the third wicket as wayward Bangladesh offered spaces to the batsmen to free their arms.

Debutant pacer Shohidul Islam picked up his maiden wicket when Rizwan chopped on a short of good length delivery to provide faint glimmers of hope to Bangladeshi fans before the death overs.

Earlier, Bangladesh’s batsmen once again failed to set a competitive target. Still looking for an effective combination in their batting line up, the hosts chose to bat and posted 124 for seven.

Opener Nazmul Hossain Shanto (5) began with a boundary but was castled by Shahnawaz Dahani (1-24) before Shamim Hossain (22) added 30 runs for the second wicket with topscorer Mohammad Naim (47 off 50 balls).

After Pakistani leg-breaker Usman Qadir (2-35) drew a topedge from Shamim to send him packing but in a counterattack, Afif Hossain stitched up 43 more runs with Naim.

As the boundaries dried up, pressure mounted on the batsmen when Afif, after clubbing two sixes over the top of midwicket, skied another from Usman for a comfortable catch at short fine leg.

Moments later Wasim took out Shanto, reducing the home side to 111 for five at the death.

Skipper Mahmudullah (13) and Nurul Hasan perished in two balls with Bangladesh struggling to reach 120 as Qadir and Wasim strangled the scoring rate, giving away just 27 in the last four overs.

Bangladesh have lost both their previous encounters due to batting failures and trail the series 2-0. The series will be followed by two Tests.

After the game, Azam said: “The way everyone has put in the efforts, credit goes to the players. You can always improve. Like our fielding has improved, our middle order has won games for us.

“Whatever mistakes we made, we want to make sure we don't repeat them in the upcoming games. We want to carry this momentum into the Test matches. I want to thank the fans here.”

Man of the Series, Mohammad Rizwan said: “When you play for the country, you are obviously happy and you cannot put that into words. The pitch was a tricky one. And whenever you play away, you get to play on different kinds of pitches.

“But we try to stick to our process. I have built some momentum in my batting and keeping over the last one year. I would like to thank the fans, it seems as if we are playing in Pakistan.

Haider Ali, adjudged Man of the Match, said: “The pitch was a difficult one. Rizi bhai supported me and told me we want to play till the end. It became close towards the end but thankfully, we ended up on the winning side.

At the post-match ceremony, Mahmudullah said, “Batters from both sides struggled. You need to spend some time on the crease before you can capitalise. Naim batted well, I think. [In the last over] I really appreciate the way Taskin came back after injuring his bowling hand. Great character shown by him."

The T20 series will be followed by two Tests with the first scheduled to begin on Nov 26 in Chittagong. The second 5-day game will be played in Dhaka from Dec 4.