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Asia Cup 2023; Pakistan Subdued Bangladesh

Asia Cup has produced some classic matches other than India vs Pakistan duals. Bangladesh and Pakistan have had their own share of intense encounters in the tournament due to obvious dark shadows of 1971. As far as head-to-head stats were concerned, Pakistan was way ahead. Bangladesh have only managed to beat them five times in the 37 ODIs that they have played against each other and out of those five wins four have come in their last five meetings. The match at the Gaddafi Stadium Lahore therefore had some promises to add another intense memory cloud. However, on paper, Pakistan was obviously superior outfit and it showed.

BangboxOnline (Sports Desk) 07 September 2023. Asia Cup action returned to Lahore, Pakistan where the host Nation dominated Bangladesh with an ease and comfort. Pakistan had earlier won the inaugural match of Asia Cup 2023 held at Sufi Saints’ City of Multan against Nepal with a huge margin of 238 runs on 30 August 2023. In fact, their margin of victory in that game was the second-highest in Asia Cup history. The match at Lahore was Pakistan’s first match of the next round; Super Four stage and also the last match of the four matches allocated on Pakistan grounds. Pakistan qualified for the super four stage after defeating Nepal and sharing equal points due rain affected abandoned match with India. 


Asia Cup has produced some classic matches other than India vs Pakistan duals. Bangladesh and Pakistan have had their own share of intense encounters in the tournament due to obvious dark shadows of 1971. As far as head-to-head stats were concerned, Pakistan was way ahead. Bangladesh have only managed to beat them five times in the 37 ODIs that they have played against each other and out of those five wins four have come in their last five meetings. The match at the Gaddafi Stadium Lahore therefore had some promises to add another intense memory cloud. However, on paper, Pakistan was obviously superior outfit and it showed.


The Gaddafi Stadium Lahore provided a much flatter pitch. It was expected to be batting pitch with runs on the board. A score above 300 was on cards. If Bangladesh wanted to maintain their stellar head-to-head record of the last five matches, then they must have planned to get the better of Pakistan’s Pace Attack especially, Shaheen Shah Afridi, or at least keep him at bay. Bangladesh Captain Shakib Al Hasan won the toss and put Pakistan to bowl. Shakib Al Hasan must have felt jitters soon in the pavilion. The first over was as per plan as Shaheen Shah was denied wicket and it was a maiden. 


Naseem Shah started from the other end and struck first ball as Mehidy Hasan Miraz was out for a golden duck. It was a loosener on the pads and Mehidy; the last match's centurion just chipped it straight to the square leg fielder; got out for a duck. Bangladesh batters could not deny Shaheen Afridi wicket in his first spell, who brought an end to Litton Das' vigil in the middle in his 3rd over of the match. The batter was caught-behind for 16(13). Haris Rauf, the third pacer of the pack joins the party as he removed Mohammad Naim for 20(25) in 8th over. That was Haris Rauf 50th ODI wicket and Bangladesh were reeling on 46/3. Haris Rauf then came back for his 2nd over and cleaned Towhid Hridoy; who departed for 2(9) and Bangladesh were in troubles at 47/4 in 9.3 overs. 


Two seasoned due of Bangladesh Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan then slowly but surely rebuilt the fifth wicket. Shakib Al Hasan completed his half-century, taking 53 balls to reach the milestone as thee score card read 142-4 in 28 overs. However, Faheem Ashraf broke the 100-run stand between Shakib and Mushfiqur; as Shakib fell for 53(57) at 147/5 in 29.1 overs for Bangladesh. Mushfiqur Rahim completed his half-century in 71 balls. Bangladesh breached 150-mark losing half the side; 152-5 in 31 overs. The Bangladesh inning was pitched for an interesting end; however, Iftikhar Ahmed struck a blow to Bangladesh advance as Shamim Hossain was out caught for 16(23). The batter tried to take the aerial route but was caught by Imam-ul-Haq inside the 30-yard-circle at 176-6 in 35 overs. Two overs later, Haris Rauf rang the bell and removed Mushfiqur Rahim for 64(87) and Taskin Ahmed was caught-behind for a golden duck at 190/8 in 37.3 overs. The pacer could not make a hat trick. Naseem Shah then picked up two wickets in 39th over as Pakistan folded the Bangladesh innings for 193 in 38.4 overs. 


Pakistan opening pace Shah duo did what they are known for but Haris Rauf is proving an absolute lethal replacement. He looked in supreme control and was breathing fire. He hit the deck hard , cutting in both ways , getting swing with fuller lengths and those thunderbolt yorkers were simply unplayable. The consistent attack of raw pace with control is a deadly combo and threesome is worry some for any team. Performance of Pakistan bowlers in Asia Cup 2023 is summarized as 104/10 vs Nepal; 266/10 vs India; 193/10 vs Bangladesh. 23 wickets out of 30 has been shared by Pace Triplet; Shaheen, Naseem & Haris Rauf; just brilliant from fast bowlers just a reminder what West Indies used to register in 1970s / 80s. 

Watch an insight during and post-match analysis here 



In pursuit of Bangladesh set target of 194 in 50 overs, Pakistan's openers never really felt settled, even though they batted nine overs. Partly due to the break as two light towers had gone off, but also because of Bangladesh's seamers bowled in good areas. Then Shoriful Islam got a full ball to snake in from off stump, and hit his back leg of Fakhar Zaman out after for a 31-ball 20 at 35/1 in 9.1 overs for Pakistan. Since scoring three hundreds on the bounce against New Zealand in May, Fakhar Zaman has made 19, 14, 33, 2, 30, 27 and 14 in his last seven ODI innings. His from is a sore point for Pakistan. 


Babar Azam started off as usual business motoring along at run-a-ball. ODI bowling ranking 42 Taskin Ahmed dismissed Babur Azam with a full ball outside off that sneaked in and got an inside edge onto the stumps. Babar's wicket lifted Bangladesh's spirits. Pakistan however was well placed at 74/2 in 15.3 overs with Imam on 36 and Mohammad Rizwan joining him at No. 4. Pakistan reached 100 as the score board read 104/2 in 24 overs. The opener Imam Ul Haq has hit his fifth ODI fifty in last eight innings, and 19 fifties in a 65-ODI career! His ODI average is now 51+. 


Imam couldn't finish the job till end, falling to a slog sweep against Miraz. M Rizwan romped to the half-century and finished on 63(79). Agha Salman got a good chance in the middle which will give him good confidence on scoring 12(21). The winning moment was a reverse sweep very fine from Salman. Pakistan won by seven wickets and picked up 2 points on the Super 4 points table. It was a terrific way for Pakistan to finish the Pakistan leg of the 2023 Asia Cup in front of the home crowd.


Watch the match highlights here



However, a good team always makes note for mistakes even after a huge margin win. In all the three matches that Pakistan has played in this Asia Cup 2023, the pace attack trio has exploited in the begging and end of the opposition innings. The middle overs mostly bowled by spinners and middle order of opposing teams have survived and managed to score at good pace in all three matches. Pakistan plays the next match on 10 September at Colombo, Sri Lanka against its arch rival India. Pakistan may employ 4th pacer Wasim Jr in place of Nawaz and make use of Shahdab, Iftikhar and Salman for spinning option. Indian players are accustomed to more gifted spinners on their home tracks but they may not have faced such pace attack as Pakistan in such a consistent flurry and ferocity.


The cricket match between India and Pakistan has assumed the real clash of titan status as the last match was an incomplete duel due rain abandoned group stage match. No other sporting event draws the interest and crowd across the globe from about two billions people of the region. Asia Cup 2023, 10th September match is a must watch event.


Remain in touch with www.bangboxonline.com for more exciting news coming from experts of the game. 

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