Haris Rauf bowled a couple of hostile spells, while Imam-ul-Haq struck a silken 78 as Pakistan secured a comfortable seven-wicket victory over Bangladesh in a Super Four clash of the Asia Cup in Lahore on Wednesday. Rauf (6-0-19-4) proved to be too quick for the Bangladeshi batters, who were also troubled relentlessly by Naseem Shah (5.4-0-34-3) after Shakib-Al-Hasan opted to bat. Bangladesh were eventually bundled out for a paltry 193 in just 38.4 overs, despite a 100-run stand and twin half-centuries by Shakib (53 off 57 balls) and former captain Mushfiqur Rahim (64 off 87 balls).
The target was never going to pose a problem for the hosts, who knocked it off in just 39.3 overs.
Even though Fakhar Zaman’s lean patch continued and Babar Azam was played on by a delivery from Taskin Ahmed that kept low, southpaw Imam was grace personified en route his 84-ball knock.
In all, he hit five fours and four sixes while anchoring the innings in company of Mohammad Rizwan (63 not out off 79 balls). The duo added 85 runs for the third wicket and ensured that there are no hiccups in the chase.
Two of his sixes — a pull-shot over mid-wicket off Mehidy Hasan Miraj and an inside out loft over long-off against Shakib bore testimony to Imam’s talent.
Pakistan will now head to Colombo once again to face arch-rivals India in their second Super Four game on Sunday.
Earlier, Bangladesh suffered two batting collapse — first the the top-order was blown away in the Power Play and the lower middle-order fell like a pack of cards towards the end of the innings. They were reduced to 47 for 4 during the first Powerplay and again lost six wickets for 47 runs between overs 30 to 39.
Rauf terrorised the batters with sheer pace while Naseem (3/34 in 5.4 overs) also added seam and swing with it.
The trouble started in the second over as last match’s centurion Mehidy Hasan Miraj (0) flicked the first delivery he faced off Naseem into the hands of mid-wicket.
Mohammed Naim (20) and Litton Das (16) hit a flurry boundaries between them, taking the score to 31 before Shaheen Shah Afridi (1/42 in 7 overs) got one to climb on the latter, who could only fend it awkwardly allowing Mohammed Rizwan to complete the formalities.
After that Rauf, coming in at one change, started hitting the bat faster than the opposition willow wielders could have envisaged.
Rauf, who hits the hard lengths, had Naim cramped for room while trying a pull-shot but all he could do was offer a simple return catch.
Towhid Hridoy (2) didn’t measure up as Rauf went slightly wider off the crease and angled one it at 140 kmph plus speed. Hridoy couldn’t get his bat down and was castled.
Shakib and Mushfiqur, the seasoned campaigners of many-a-battle for Bangladesh over last decade-and-half, then steadied the ship but the top-order failure left them with too much to do.
With no Mohammed Nawaz in the line-up, Pakistan had four pacers operating and the duo had to carry out the rescue act.
Once Shakib was holed out in the deep off Faheem Ashraf (1/27 in 7 overs), Bangladesh’s innings derailed.
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