Pakistan Champions Asia Cup Cricket
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Pakistan Champions Asia Cup Cricket

Dhāka : Bangladesh | Mar 22, 2012 at 9:51 AM PDT
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PAKISTAN clinched the Asia Cup Cricket Tournament following a crucial and nerve breaking 2 run victory over hosts Bangladesh at Shere Bangla National Stadium Ground, Mirpur, Dhaka on Thursday. Final scores:PAKISTAN 236/9 (50 overs) BANGLADESH 234/8 (50 overs). Just incredible cricket before a packed Dhaka crowd and while the hosts should thank Shakib and Tamim for their fighting innings, it was actually Younis Khan who had taken three catches in a row which had made a big difference, though Shahid Afridi was declared Man of the Match for his 32 off 22 deliveries and a wicket. But regardless of that it was cricket at best and both the sides produced the best they could in a high tension game like this. Congratulations to Misbah and party, another moment to celebrate and another feather in the cap as skipper.Tamim Iqbal and Nazimuddin started the chase against Mohammad Hafeez and Umar Gul, the new strategy of spin and pace combination. Right hand bowlers to right and left hand batsmen. They carried the total first past 50 and then added another 18 more before the Pakistanis had first success at 68 when Younis Khan dived for a catch to send Nazim back off Afridi for 16. The batsman did try to loft but not with much needed punch as the ball flew up in the air before the former skipper held it superbly. A good round of applause for him and he held the second catch right away, this time Saeed Ajmal was the bowler and Jahurul Islam went back without scoring. At 68 for 2, Bangla Tigers had run into troible when Nasir Hossain had joined Tamim, reaching his 50 off 50 balls and 7 fours. It was Younis making it up for his another batting failure for the two well taken catches and made it three in a row when he took the stunner to send back Tamim off Umar Gul at 81 for 60. A superb low catch to the surprise of the batsman. Just brilliant piece of fielding by the veteran. Shakib Al Hasan walked in and together with Nasir held on, first taking it past one hundred and then past 150 as they came closer towards the target 84 more required off 60 deliveries. Much pressure on the batsmen as well on the bowlers. Hafeez and Afridi (1/28) had completed their quotas of ten overs. Aizaz Cheema brought on from the other end first had removed well settled Shakib and then then skipper Mushfiqur Rahim to put Pakistan on track. Shakib was clean bowled for 68 including a six and 7 boundaries at 179 and Mushfiq was caught by Nasir Jamshed for 10 at 191. Now Mahmudullah and Mashrafe Mortaza had to do some magic with the wood 39 off 24 balls, anything could happen as they reached the 200 mark. They lost Mashrafe at 218 caught Jamshed off Ajmal for 18 and then Aizaz Cheema had bowled Abdur Razzak for 6 when they needed only 3 for the victory and fell short by 2 when the 50 overs were completed giving Pakistan their second Asia Cup in years. Mahmudullah remained not out 17 and Shahadat without score. Aizaz Cheema finished on top with three for 46 while Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal had two each for 65 and 40.Earlier, Mohammad Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed had opened for Pakistan after the Bangladeshi skipper opted to field first following his win over the spin of the coin. Sarfraz Ahmed was brought in at the expense of Wahab Riaz from the side that had lost to India while there was no change in the host squad that had beaten the Lankans for the finals. The stands looked full to the capacity and the crowd kept pouring in. Mashrafe Mortaza bowled his first over and gave away 10 runs including two boundaries by Jamshed. Promising start. Nazmul Hossain from the other end for the two pronged pace operation. First boundary by Hafeez who was disturbed by the frequent movement behind the sight screen and repeatedly signalled towards the end. The partnership failed to repeat what they had done against India and Nasir Jamshed was sent back at the total of 16 easily caught by Mahmudullah for 9. The crowd went crazy and amid the thundering roar came out former skipper Younis Khan to join Hafeez, three more added to the total and it was 19 for 1 after 5 overs. Both the bowlers were right on target and absolutely gave away nothing and Younis Khan lost his wicket. Trapped leg before by Nazmul for 1. Two wickets down for 19, another failure with the bat for Younis and Pakistan in trouble. Misbah ul Haq was the new man. London born former Aussies Test star Steve Davis and former English first class cricketer Ian Gould were in the middle to supervise the match. Ten overs gone and Pakistan were 43 for 2. First bowling change and left arm Abdur Razzak in action. Another change from the other end, Shahadat Hossain takes Mortaza place and they had barely crossed the fifty mark when Misbah lost his wicket, a run out for 13 at 55. Very well fielded by Nasir Hossain as the skipper gave it a second thought for the run but the fielder just picked up and had a direct hit at non striker's end. Three wickets down, Umar Akmal joined Hafeez. A one time former World Cup champs now needed a productive partnership but couldn't go much longer and Hafeez lost his wicket at 70 caught Nazmul off Abdur Razzak for 40 including 4 boundaries. Hammad Azam, the new man hit a towering six off Shahadat as the total moved to 80 off 23 overs. Razzak had run rate well checked giving away only 11 in his 7 overs so far and three of them being maiden. Very effective bowling and now comes Shakib Al Hasan from the other end. Hundred of the innings and 20 more overs remaining 6 wickets in tact. And now Mahmudullah was brought in for off spin. Hammad Azam was the fifth man out, caught and bowled Shakib for 30 at 129 and UmarAkmal followed suit after Afridi had joined him, caught Mushfiqur Rahim off Mahmudullah also for 30. Plenty of eye brows over that decision, the ball didn't appear to have went off the bat, rather just a whisk off the batsman's trousers but went the umpire's finger up. Pakistan in deeper trouble and when Afridi departed at 179 there were worries if they could reach the 200 mark. He was very well caught by Nasir Hossain off Shakib for 32 including a six and 4 boundaries. Good wicket for the Tigers. Umar Gul was sent back by Mortaza following an easy catch by Shakib for 4 at 199 and then Saeed Ajmal lost his wicket immediately after following 200 on the board bowled by Razzak for 4. Nine wickets down when Aizaz Cheema joined Sarfraz Ahmed as the last man and the two added invaluable 30 for the last wicket before the innings were closed at 236 for 9. Sarfraz, the highest scorer remained not out 46 and Cheema 9. For the Tigers, it were Mashrafe Mortaza, Abdur Razzak and Shakib Al Hasan taking two each for 48, 26 and 39 while Nazmul Hossain and Mahmudullah took one each for 36 and 14. They needed 237 to win.

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Pakistan's Jamshed runs as Bangladesh's Rahim breaks the wicket during their first ODI cricket match of Asia Cup in Dhaka
Pakistan's Jamshed runs as Bangladesh's Rahim breaks the wicket during their first ODI cricket match of Asia Cup in Dhaka
TASNEEM KHAN is based in Miami, Florida, United States of America, and is a Reporter on Allvoices.
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