Pakistan win thriller to lift Asia Cup
Pakistan beat Bangladesh in a close final by 2 runs to lift only their second Asia Cup trophy at the Shere Bangla Stadium in Mirpur, Dhaka on Thursday night.
Bangladesh made an impressive start to the highest profile ODI since they started playing international cricket, reducing Pakistan to 133/6 in the 35th over after winning the toss and choosing to bowl first.
Mohammad Hafeez (40), Hammad Azam (30) and Umar Akmal (30) couldn’t build on their starts as a disciplined Bangladeshi attack applied relentless pressure. Two similar knocks from Shahid Afridi (32 off 22b) and Sarfraz Ahmed (46*) however helped Pakistan dig themselves out of the hole and post a decent total of 236/9.
Shakib, Mashrafe and former RCBian Abur Razzak all chipped in with 2 wickets each but Shahadat Hossain proved expensive, giving away 63 runs at 7 rpo in his overs including 19 in the last one.
Bangladesh’s start was again quite strong with Tamim Iqbal (60) hitting his stride early. But from 68/0 they went to 81/3 once the spinners came into the action. Another 89 run partnership between Nasir Hossain (28 off 63b) and Shakib Al Hasan (68) followed before two quick strikes pegged them down to 179/5.
The slow knocks of Nasir and Nazimuddin (16 off 52b) had already piled the pressure on the remaining batsmen. Shakib, Mushfiqur (10 off 8) and Mashrafe (18 off 9) all played intense knocks and all perished trying to invent shots or clear the ropes. The latter two played only cameos but still pushed Bangladesh closer to the total.
Mahmudullah (17* off 16) and Abdur Razzak (6 off 8) took them close with 9 required off the last over. Aizaz Cheema kept his nerves to give away only 6 runs and dismiss Razzak. The batsmen could only manage 1 from the last ball with 3 required, the stadium turned quiet and Bangladeshi players wept on the field while Pakistan’s players celebrated their hard fought status of Asian champions.
Cheema (3/46), Gul (2/65), Ajmal (2/40) struck for Pakistan. Afridi only managed the one wicket of Nazimuddin but it was the first crucial breakthrough and his excellent economy of 28 heaped the pressure on Bangladesh’s batsmen.
Afridi picked up the Man of the Match award while Shakib Al Hasan picked up the Man of the Series award.
Although he didn’t receive any award for it, Virat Kohli ended the tournament as the highest run getter with 357 runs from 3 innings with 2 hundreds and a fifty at a stunning average of 119.