Afridi powers Pakistan to big win before India clash
Proud captain Shahid Afridi said he had been determined to lead by example Wednesday after starring in Pakistan's demolition of Bangladesh, drawing a line under his side's troubled World Twenty20 build-up.
The big-hitting Afridi, accused in some quarters of being a "traitor" ahead of his team's World T20 opener, silenced his critics with a devastating blitz with the bat before taking two key wickets in a 55-run victory.
The allrounder's blistering 19-ball 49 helped Pakistan post a commanding total of 201 for five and his bowling was instrumental in restricting Bangladesh to 146 for six from their 20 overs.
The result was particularly satisfying for man-of-the-match Afridi who had been under fire back home after saying at the weekend that Pakistan received more "love" from Indian fans than from supporters back home.
"It's a big event and I thought I should take responsibility as the captain," Afridi said after being named man-of-the-match.
While his batting pyrotechnics once earned him the nickname 'Boom Boom', Afridi has endured a torrid time at the crease in the last couple of years and some observers felt his ability to play a match-winning innings had gone for good.
But after promoting himself to number four in the order, Afridi smacked four boundaries and four sixes to help Pakistan register their second highest score in T20s.
"I love to give a chance to the other batsmen but sometimes you need extra effort in a big event," said a beaming Afridi.
"I was hungry. I was keen to perform well for my country... As senior player, I had to lead by example.
"Captaincy is not an easy job, but when the team gives you 100 per cent, I enjoy it. People expect me to bat and bowl as well and I enjoy both."
Little had gone right for Pakistan in recent weeks.
After a dismal showing in the Asia Cup, they had to delay their departure to India for the World T20 in a row over security.
But everything fell into place once Afridi stepped onto the Eden Gardens surface where he won the toss and opted to bat.
His decision was soon vindicated when Ahmed Shehzad (52) and Mohammad Hafeez (64) hit entertaining fifties to stitch a 95-run second wicket partnership and lay a solid foundation for others to build on.
The duo combined the right dose of caution and aggression to blunt the Bangladesh bowling attack, with the Tigers' captain Mashrafe Mortaza unable to stem the tide in the absence of injured bowler Mustafizur Rahman.
Shehzad, who was recalled after missing the recent Asia Cup, reached his fifth T20 international half-century in 35 deliveries while Hafeez struck seven fours and two sixes in his 42-ball stay.
The only bright spot for Bangladesh was a moment of brilliance in the field when Soumya Sarkar took a breathtaking catch on the boundary to end Hafeez's innings.
Bangladesh were never really in the hunt and got off to a dreadful start when opener Sarkar was bowled by Mohammad Amir with only the third ball.
The in-form Tamim Iqbal and Sabbir Rahman put on 43 for the second wicket, but they both fell victim to Afridi and Bangladesh's chase fell away.
Amir, on the comeback trail after serving a prison sentence and a five-year ban for spot-fixing, ended with impressive figures of 2-27.
All-rounder Shakib Al Hasan put up some resistance, top-scoring with an unbeaten 50, but his knock never looked like altering the outcome.
Mortaza said it was always going to be a struggle to overhaul Pakistan's total and his team's poor start had rendered it "almost impossible" as early as the sixth over.
"Shakib batted very well and we got 150, so it's not that bad," he said.
"We have to bowl better, we didn't bowl well today."
Pakistan's next match is against arch rivals India in Kolkata on Saturday while Bangladesh's second assignment is against Australia on March 21.
Pakistan romped to a 55-run win over Bangladesh at Eden Gardens on Wednesday in a perfect warm up for their titanic clash against India on Saturday.
Chasing a daunting target of 202, Bangladesh replied with 146-6 with Shakib Al Hasan being unbeaten on 50.
Amir and Afridi claimed two wickets apiece.
Mahmudullah perishes slog sweeping Imad straight to the fielder in the deep. Ban 71-4, 10.2 overs.
Mahmudullah c Sharjeel Khan b Imad Wasim 4 (5b)
Afridi claims the big wicket of Tamim. Ban 58-3, 8 overs
Tamim Iqbal c Imad Wasim b Shahid Afridi 24 (20b 2x6)
Tamim has clubbed Malik a for a massive six over cover. Ban 56-2, 7 overs.
Afridi has struck with his golden arm as Shabbir finds his stumps castled. Ban 45-2, 6 overs.
Sabbir Rahman b Shahid Afridi 25 (19b 5x4)
Shabbir continues to pick up boundaries while Tamim greets Afridi by swinging him into the stands for the first maximum.
Shabbir hits the first boundary of the innings steering Amir past point. Pak 6-1, 1 over.
Amir has drawn first blood castling Sarkar beating him through the gate and Pakistan are off to a sensational start as Bangladesh begin chasing 202. Ban 1-1, 0.3 overs.
Soumya Sarkar b Mohammad Amir 0 (2b)
Pakistan propelled by half centuries from Shehzad (52) and Hafeez (64) followed by a 19-ball blitz from Afridi (49) powered Pakistan to 201-5 after opting to bat first.
Afridi's brilliant knock comes to an end flicking Taskin to the field at midwicket. Pak 198-5, 19.4 overs.
Shahid Afridi c Mahmudullah b Taskin Ahmed 49 (19b 4x4 4x6)
Afridi has smashed Shakib for his third six as Pakistan are on course for a total over 200. Pak 189-4, 19 overs.
Taskin has the last laugh as Akmal falls for a duck. Pak 175-4, 17.5 overs.
Umar Akmal c Shakib Al Hasan b Taskin Ahmed 0 (2b)
Afridi is turning it slamming Taskin over extra cover for another six.
Sarkar takes a spectacular catch on the boundary throwing the ball inside and catching it to dismiss Hafeez. Pak 163-3, 16.4 overs.
Mohammad Hafeez c Soumya Sarkar b Arafat Sunny 64 (42b 7x4 2x6)
Big over for Pakistan as Hafeez picks up a couple of boundaries while Afridi slams Al-amin for a six. Pak 157-2, 16 overs.
Afridi has glided a beamer from Mortaza for a six after whacking a couple of boundaries. Pak 139-2, 15 overs.
Hafeez also completes his half century off 36 balls while Afridi opens his account by pulling Mortaza to long leg for a boundary.
Sabbir gets a breakthrough as Shehzad holes out to midwicket. Pak 121-2, 13.5 overs.
Ahmed Shehzad c Mahmudullah b Sabbir Rahman 52 (39b 8x4)
Shehzad completes a superb 35-ball fifty and looks in ominous form while Hafeez is also flaying the attack at the other end. Pak 117-1, 13 overs.
Hafeez is turning it on thumping Sunny straight over his head for his second six. Pak 65-1, 7 overs.
Hafeez slams a couple of boundaries and survives a stumping appeal narrowly as together with Shehzad Pakistan are off to a solid start. Pak 55-1, 6 overs.
Shehzad is finding the gaps with classic shot picking boundaries on the offside through Taskin and Sunny. Pak 44-1, 5 overs.
Hafeez makes his intentions clears dancing down the track and thumping Sunny for a six. Pak 32-1, 3 overs.
Sunny strikes with a quicker delivery castling Sharjeel. Pak 26-1, 2.3 overs.
Sharjeel Khan b Arafat Sunny 18 (10b 1x4 2x6)
Sharjeel opens his shoulders swinging Al-Amin over square leg and lofting straight over the bowler's head for a couple of sixes and a boundary. Pak 25-0, 2 overs.
Shehzad hits the first boundary of the cracking Taskin through the covers. Pak 7-0, 1 over.
Afridi has won the toss and Pakistan are batting in the World T20 Super 10 clash against Bangladesh on Wednesday.
Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahman, Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mashrafe Mortaza, Mohammad Mithun, Al-Amin Hossain, Arafat Sunny, Taskin Ahmed
Pakistan: Ahmed Shehzad, Sharjeel Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shahid Afridi, Imad Wasim, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Irfan
Bangladesh will look to compound the misery of beleaguered Pakistan Wednesday in their opening group match of the World Twenty20, fresh from humbling their arch-rivals in the Asia Cup.
Despite their recent improvements in 50-over cricket, Bangladesh have a rotten record in the World T20 and have never beaten Pakistan in the premier tournament of cricket's shortest format.
But they will fancy their chances like never before at Kolkata's Eden Gardens against a team who are on a miserable run and whose preparations have been hit by their late arrival in India in a row over security.
Bangaladesh cruised through last week's preliminary round and know that a victory over Pakistan will set them up nicely if they are to make the semi-finals for the first time.
Star batsman Tamim Iqbal is in the form of his life, scoring Bangladesh's first ever international T20 century in Sunday's victory over Oman after scores of 83 and 47 in the first two games.
Fans in the cricket-mad nation held impromptu street parties earlier this month when Bangladesh clinched a five-wicket win over Pakistan in Dhaka, sealing a place in the final of the Asia Cup which they lost to India.
Mashrafe Mortaza's side can expect strong support from their fellow Bengalis in what is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal.
But Afridi said Pakistan had a good record at Eden Gardens, including a convincing victory over India in an ODI in January 2013.
"We have very good memories over here and we are pretty much confident," he told reporters in Kolkata.
Afridi landed himself in hot water at the weekend when he said he had received more "love" from fans in India than back home, comments that incensed former Pakistan skipper Javed Mianded.
Bangladesh's build-up has been serene in comparison. But after seeing off Oman, the Netherlands and Ireland in the preliminaries, Mortaza knows the hard work now begins in a group that includes India, Australia and New Zealand.
"In that group you can't make any mistakes, you have to be up to the mark everywhere," said the veteran bowler.
Bangladesh (from): Mashrafe Mortaza (captain), Shakib Al Hasan, Abu Hider, Al-Amin Hossain, Arafat Sunny, Mahmudullah, Mohammad Mithun, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mustafizur Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Nurul Hasan, Sabbir Rahman, Soumya Sarkar, Tamim Iqbal, Taskin Ahmed
Pakistan (from): Shahid Afridi (captain), Anwar Ali, Imad Wasim, Khalid Latif, Khurram Manzoor, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Sami, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shoaib Malik, Sharjeel Khan, Umar Akmal, Wahab Riaz
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