March 16, 2016

Afridi steers Pakistan with strong all-round display - Bangladesh v Pakistan, World T20 2016, Group 2, Kolkata

Shahid Afridi

Pakistan's Captain, Shahid Afridi, produced a strong all-round display to help his side cruise past Bangladesh, who had beaten them in the Asia Cup on March 2, by 55 runs to register their first win of the World T20 tournament at Eden Gardens on Wednesday.

Afridi won the toss and opted to bat first and his openers, Sharjeel Khan and Ahmed Shehzad, got Pakistan off to a flier, with Khan clubbing Al-Amin Hossain for two sixes and a four in the second over of the match.

Khan fell in the third over, for a ten-ball 18, but his onslaught helped Pakistan wrestle the early momentum. Mohammad Hafeez then joined Shehzad and the duo kept their foot on the gas and refused to hand Bangladesh the advantage.

Shehzad, making his comeback into the squad after being dropped, made the most of wayward bowling from the opposition. He hit eight fours in his 35-ball 50, before he eventually fell in the 14th over. Pakistan stood at 121 for two at that stage.

His departure brought Afridi to the crease and he took just two balls to begin the onslaught. He smashed two fours and a six from the first six balls he faced and raced to 16.

Hafeez, at the other end, hit Hossain for two fours in the 16th over to bring up his 50, before Afridi ended the over with another six. Bangladesh' bowlers did not have an answer to Afridi's fireworks. Even Hafeez' departure in the 17th over and Umar Akmal in the 18th over, didn't prompt a change in plan, as Afridi smashed two more sixes and a four before he fell in the 20th over, for a 19-ball 49. Pakistan posted 201 in their 20 overs.

Bangladesh' batsmen required to score at ten runs an over from the onset to help their side over turn a confident Pakistan outfit. But, Mohammad Amir pegged them on the back foot when he uprooted Soumya Sarkar's off stump in the first over.

Sabbir Rahman refused to buckle under the pressure and struck fours off Amir and Wahab Riaz through the off side. But Afridi breached his defences in the final Powerplay over. An over later, Afridi accounted for the dangerous Tamim Iqbal, who miscued a slog sweep to deep square leg. Shakib Al Hasan remained unbeaten on 50 in the end, but Bangladesh managed just 146 in reply.

"My performances play a key role, but I was hungry. I was keen to perform well for my country in this event," Afridi said. "It's a big event as captain, as senior player, I had to lead by example. I spoke to the coach and he said okay. I love to give chances to the rest of the batsmen, but sometimes. I think from the last two-three series, the batsman struggled to find runs."

"First six overs was important and Hafeez and Shehzad did very well. That was what we missed in the batting, the partnerships. Openers are very important, Shehzad and even Sharjeel can be very attacking too. If he stays first six overs, the team will have 50-60. I expect them to perform well, as a captain."

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