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Sunday, April 19, 2015, Baishakh 6, 1422 BS, Jamadius Sani 28, 1436 Hijr

Tamim ton leads Bangladesh to series win
Observer Online Desk
Published : Sunday, 19 April, 2015,  Time : 10:14 PM,  View Count : 18
Tamim Iqbal hammered his second consecutive century as Bangladesh clinched their first-ever series win over Pakistan with a commanding performance in the second ODI. Tamim and Mushfiqur Rahim - who both scored centuries in the first ODI - once again tormented Pakistan's below-par bowling attack, but the biggest factor in Bangladesh's win were their bowlers. Even though Pakistan recovered from 77 for 5 thanks to half-centuries from Saad Nasim and Wahab Riaz, a target of 240 didn't prove anywhere near testing. Bangladesh reached their target with nearly 12 overs to spare.

Tamim's first scoring shot was a blast from the past: a saunter down the pitch to Junaid Khan and a flat-batted wallop through the covers. In the sixth over, he had already cracked Rahat Ali for two fours when he got a full ball angling into his pads; deep square leg didn't have to run too far to his right to cut off Tamim's flick, but the timing was so good he didn't get anywhere near it even after putting in a desperate slide.

By the end of that over Bangladesh had already shaved 51 off their target. Tamim then took three fours off the last three balls of the ninth over, bowled by Saeed Ajmal, and did the same thing in the tenth over, bowled by Wahab Riaz, to bring up his half-century off 31 balls. The second four he hit off Wahab, a horizontal-bat swat past the bowler from halfway down the pitch, showed the kind of mood he was in.

By that point, Bangladesh's asking rate was under four an over, and Tamim eased into a less frenetic mood. Ajmal picked up his first wicket since his international return, bowling Mahmudullah in the 15th over to have Bangladesh two down, but that only brought Mushfiqur to the crease. Ajmal and Wahab kept him quiet initially, keeping him to only three runs from his first 15 balls, but he was only biding his time, waiting for a ball in his favourite slot: Ajmal delivered it, and he sank to his knees and slog-swept it for six. Two overs later, he hit Rahat for three successive fours, pulling him mercilessly when he dropped short, and he was batting on 25 off 25. Bangladesh now needed less than 100.

Pakistan's only respite came when a floodlight tower failed in the 30th over, causing a 15-minute break in play. It's unlikely they would have welcomed it, though. By that point, they must have been hoping for a quick finish and an early ice bath.

Pakistan batted first, hoping for conditions similar to the first ODI, but the ball didn't come on to the bat nearly as well, and the openers struggled against up-and-down bounce while putting on 36 in 7.1 overs. Azhar Ali, coming off a half-century in the first ODI, played and missed on a couple of occasions, but also played some sparkling shots through the off side including two fours in one Taskin Ahmed over.

Sarfraz Ahmed looked edgy right through his 11-ball stay, and played away from his body to nick Rubel Hossain's first ball of the match to first slip. The spinners took over from that point.

The odd ball gripped and turned sharply, and Shakib Al Hasan dismissed Azhar with one of these, causing him to connect poorly with a reverse-sweep and fall prey to a brilliant bit of anticipation from Mushfiqur Rahim behind the stumps. Another viciously spinning Shakib delivery, tossed up enticingly, beat Mohammad Rizwan's front-foot prod, caused him to overbalance, and led to prolonged deliberation from the third umpire over a stumping appeal. He gave it not out, but the batsmen were always aware of the threat of turn - this made the straighter one doubly dangerous, and the spinners made excellent use of it.

Arafat Sunny struck in the ninth over, skidding one through from his left-arm around angle to bowl Mohammad Hafeez as looked to force him off the back foot through the off side. In a mirror image of that dismissal, Nasir Hossain went around the wicket and slid one through Fawad Alam's attempted cut. Then Rizwan, with the near-stumping fresh in his mind, was lbw pressing forward and across to Shakib's slider. Replays showed the ball striking his front pad marginally outside the line of off stump, but Rizwan had failed to ask for a review.

The moment seemed to encapsulate a dazed and confused Pakistan, but Nasim and Haris showed they still had some smart, sensible batting left in their tank. Neither of them went out of their way to counterattack, even though Pakistan's run rate when they came together was well below four an over. They took 75 balls over the first 34 runs of their partnership, and Nasim was the slowpoke of the pair. At the start of the 34th over, he was on 17 off 51 balls and Haris on 33 off 49.

Mashrafe Mortaza brought himself back into the attack, and provided Nasim with width twice in a row. Both balls went for four. In his next over Nasim drove him crisply to the cover boundary. In between he jumped down the pitch and launched Sunny cleanly over long-off. Pakistan took 13 off Shakib in the 38th over, with Haris clouting him for a six over long-on, and the revival was firmly underway.

Wahab ensured it would continue apace, after a clever slower ball from Mashrafe ended Haris' stay in the next over. His recent innings have displayed both brawn and craft, and his first two boundaries showed both facets: a glide past short third man and a wallop through the covers, both in the same Rubel over.

Strike rotation was Pakistan's main focus from there till the 45th over, before Nasim signalled the shift of gears by crashing Taskin through extra cover. Wahab picked up four boundaries in the next three overs, including a slog-swept four and a whistling straight six off successive Shakib deliveries. He hit another six in the final over, keeping a steady base and a still head to clout Taskin over the leg side and bring up his fifty. Wahab had failed to cross the mark in his first 37 ODI innings. Now he had made two in six.


Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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