Shehzad, Misbah star in Pakistan win

Pakistan 285 for 9 (Shehzad 103, Misbah 100) beat Bangladesh 196 (Razzaq 3-31) by 89 runs

The innocuous practice game had more reasons to be forgotten than to be remembered despite the centuries by Ahmed Shehzad and Misbah-ul-Haq and Junaid Siddique’s brave approach. Pakistan beat Bangladesh convincingly by 89 runs at the Shere Bangla Stadium in Mirpur and it was a game that reminded Bangladesh of holes in their system and gave the young Pakistan batsman ideal practice ahead of their first big tournament.

The Pakistan dressing room went through a nervy first 90 minutes before settling in with the 152-run stand between Misbah and Shehzad, but the battle for the ‘story of the day’, as far as the locals were concerned, would be a tight contest between the ticket bungle-up and Bangladesh’s four dropped catches.

When Shehzad walked in with Mohammad Hafeez to open the innings, the ground was half-full with most of the ticket-holders left stranded at a nearby indoor stadium with vouchers in hand. Shehzad cut and drove with ease though wickets fell quickly for Pakistan. After Hafeez drove straight at Mahmudullah at cover, Kamran Akmal and Younis Khan succumbed as soon as spin was introduced, Kamran miscuing a drive and Abdur Razzak foxing Younis for 5.

The game changed as soon as Misbah took over, with each left-arm spinner looking more ineffective than the other. Razzak and Suhrawadi Shuvo bowled a poor line and their frustration was compounded by dropping catches off each other at long-off when Shehzad was on 42 and 56. Hafeez too had a let-off when Siddique dropped him on 16, a simple chance at midwicket, while Mohammad Ashraful found Shahid Afridi’s skier at mid-off hard to handle.

“The four dropped catches were a bit disappointing. Razzak has never been our best fielder but the others were really disappointing,” Jamie Siddons, the Bangladesh coach, said. “I’m glad it was a practice game and not the 19th.”

Shehzad’s batting gave Pakistan hope as it reaffirmed his position at the top of the order alongside Hafeez, who did a fine job in New Zealand. Shehzad latched into anything short and there were many opportunities. He hit nine boundaries and a six in his 122-ball 103. “I think he looked really good and he has been doing well since the New Zealand tour where he got a century in the last game,” Pakistan’s coach Waqar Younis said. “He is in superb touch, and for a young man to be so responsible at such a big stage, it was great.”

It was Misbah’s timing, however, that caught the eye, his run-a-ball 100 had four big sixes and eight boundaries. He was severe on the spinners, cutting and punching the ball with ease, a handy lesson for batsmen on both sides.

Bangladesh’s chase had a terrible start when Tamim Iqbal played down the wrong line to Abdul Razzaq’s first delivery of the innings. Siddique’s courage to open up his game was a surprise. Some of his boundaries were exquisite, mainly forcing the ball down the ground but even making room to hit Razzaq over covers. But he holed out to Asad Shafiq off Wahab Riaz, whom Siddique had struck for a six over square-leg an over ago. His 28-ball 38 included six boundaries and the six, and he added with Imrul Kayes, who made 39.

Bangladesh’s experiment to use Mushfiqur Rahim at No. 4 failed and so did Ashraful after he struck a boundary off his first ball. Razzaq picked up Shakib and Ashraful after he took out Tamim. Once the game slipped out of Bangladesh’s grasp, they used a longer batting line-up to give their batsmen a go before the big game against India on February 19. The result ensured a few more tense net sessions for Siddons and Shakib.


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