In a virtual semi-final, Pakistan took on Bangladesh at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi. The Indian fans were bracing themselves for an India-Pakistan final but Bangladesh spoiled the party and once again proved their meteoric rise in cricket. Mashrafe Mortaza & Co. put up a great show to make it to the final. It will now be a repeat of the Asia Cup 2016 final between India and Bangladesh.
Bangladesh won the toss and elected to bat first. Junaid Khan was making his first appearance in the tournament. The left-hander immediately made his presence felt when he removed Soumya Sarkar in the 3rd over. His pace partner Shaheen Afridi accounted for Mominul Haque’s wicket from the other end. Junaid then castled Liton Das to leave the opposition in stutters at 12/3.
Rahim’s masterclass once again
The batting side was missing the services of the most experienced player – Shakib Al Hasan in this game. The onus was on Mushfiqur Rahim to rebuild the innings after the initial jitters. The 31-year-old once again proved to be the savior when he combined well with Mohammad Mithun to bring the side back in the game.
The duo fought bravely and after spending a substantial amount of time in the middle, began to play the natural game. After 25 overs, the score reached 107/3 and soon after, both batsmen brought up their individual fifties. They added 144 runs for the 4th wicket before Mithun was sent back by Hasan Ali for 60 in the 34th over as the score read 167/5.
Imrul Kayes, who had done well in the last game, failed to deliver this time and fell prey to Shadab Khan for 9. Rahim was inching towards his 2nd century of the tournament. But it wasn’t in his destiny as he got out on 99 to Shaheen in the 42nd over. Pakistan made a great comeback in the death overs and got the remaining wickets quickly. Bangladesh was bowled out for 239 with 7 balls to spare.
Pakistan’s awful start, Imam’s sole fight
Just like the Bangladesh innings, Pakistan’s chase was off to a terrible start. Fakhar Zaman’s poor run continued as Mehidy Hasan dismissed him in the first over for 1. Mustafizur Rahman made it even better by trapping Babar Azam for 1 in the next over. It didn’t end just there as the skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed, who had promoted himself to No.4, could score only 10 and became Rahman’s 2nd victim.
Imam-ul-Haq was determined unlike others and he refused to throw away his wicket. Along with Shoaib Malik, he began to bring some solidity to the chase. From 18/3, the pair took Pakistan to 85/4 before Malik was removed by Rubel Hossain courtesy a breathtaking catch by Mortaza.
Pakistan promoted Shadab Khan ahead of Asif Ali as the former could hang in there. But the move failed miserably as Shadab took 24 balls to score just 4 runs. His misery was ended by Soumya Sarkar who bagged his first wicket in ODI cricket.
Asif Ali came out to bat and the right-hander curbed his natural instinct of going after the bowling. Along with Imam, he focussed on taking the side as close to the target as possible. After scoring 31 off 47 balls, he casually took a step forward against Hasan and missed the ball only to find the keeper ripping off the bails.
It went from bad to worse when Imam fell in the next over to Mahmudullah with the same mode of dismissal. His departure for 83 sealed the doors of victory for Pakistan who was struggling at 167/7 after 41 overs. There was too much to get for the tail-enders and ultimately, the Men in Green were restricted to 202/9 in 50 overs.
Bangladesh won the toss and opted to bat first
Bangladesh: 239/10 in 50 overs
Mushfiqur Rahim 99 (116), Mohammad Mithun 60 (84)
Junaid Khan 19/4 (9), Shaheen Afridi 47/2 (10)
Pakistan: 202/9 in 50 overs
Imam-ul-Haq 83 (105), Asif Ali 31 (47)
Mustafizur Rahman 43/4 (10), Mehidy Hasan 28/2 (10)
Bangladesh won by 37 runs
Player of the Match: Mushfiqur Rahim