Asia Cup 2018: Gritty Bangladesh topple Pakistan to book final against India
Bangladesh saw off some stiff competition from Pakistan to beat them by 27 runs and advance to the Asia Cup final where they would face India on Friday.
For yet another time, we got a match that changed it’s direction slowly with the passage of time. Bangladesh batted first in this contest, also dubbed as a virtual semi-final match and were in for one of the worst beginnings to their innings when they were reduced to 12/3 inside five overs. Left-arm seamer Junaid Khan was the man to do the damage as Pakistan looked well settled to restrict Mashrafe Mortaza and his team to a modest total.
The Bangladesh innings was resurrected by the duo of Mushfiqur Rahim and Mohammad Mithun with a 144-run partnership that brought some stability back into their batting. While Mithun scored a gusty 60, it was Rahim who missed his seventh ODI hundred by a run as his 116-ball innings, which comprised of nine fours was brought to an end by Shaheen Shah Afridi who had him caught behind.
But the slump continued with Rahim’s dismissal in the 42nd over with Bangladesh at 197/6. Mahmudullah then stitched brief partnerships with Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Mortaza to take the team to 239.
If it was the left-arm pace or Junaid Khan that make a mark in the first innings, it was the guile and cutters from Bangladesh’s very own Mustafizur Rahman that impacted the match in the second half.
Mehidy took his team off to a solid start to their title defence as he had opener Fakhar Zaman caught in the very first over. Rahman then struck in the second over to remove Babar Azam for one run and when he removed opposition captain Sarfraz Ahmed in the fourth over, one could well and truly argue that the chase wasn’t going to be an easy one for Mickey Arthur’s men.
Well and truly on top, Bangladesh found the turning point of the match and used it to their advantage after a screamer of a catch by Mortaza saw the ever-reliant Shoaib Malik depart to the bowling of Rubel Hossain in the 21 st over.
Pakistan never really came back into the contest from here on and it was only a resistant knock of 83 runs by opener Imam ul-Haq delayed the inevitable. But when he was caught way out of his crease to the bowling off Mahmudullah, stumper Liton Das didn’t make any mistake in whipping the bails as Pakistan’s last hope slipped away.
Eventually, Bangladesh came out on top and would play India in the final on Friday.
Bangladesh 239 (Mushfiqur 99, Mithun 60, Junaid 4-19) beat Pakistan 202 for 9 (Imam 83, Mustafizur 4-43) by 37 runs.