By Jawad Hussain
KARACHI, September 26, 2018 (News925.com) – A clinical century by former skipper Mushfiqur Rahim inspired Bangladesh into final of the 2018 Asia Cup with a massive 37-run victory over Pakistan in the last Super-Four round match at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday night.
The match between Bangladesh and Pakistan had become a literal semifinal as the winner was eligible to progress into the title match whereas the losers would go home. This is exactly what happened as Bangladesh earned their right to play for the Asia Cup title with a big win over Pakistan.
In one line, the match was all about which team had the better mental strength to take on the challenge and absorb big-match pressure. Pakistan apparently fell drastically to show nerves when it mattered the most and collapsed under the pressure of defeat.
2018 Asia Cup: Bangladesh handled Pressure Well
Another aspect of the crucial match was the way the captains marshaled their troops on and off the field. Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza looked like a leader among his team-mates but on the other hand, Sarfraz Ahmed looked well short of the confidence in his body language, which affected the overall complexion of the match.
Pakistan started the match in flying colors as Junaid Khan got rid of three Bangladesh top-order batsmen in a whisker. Instead of upping the pressure, Pakistani skipper resorted to bowling his part-time bowlers early on to finish off their overs quickly rather than going for the kill. This allowed Mushfiqur Rahim (99 off 116 – 9 fours) and Mohammad Mithun (60 off 84 – 4 fours) to rebuild the innings from 3/12. Junaid Khan (9-1-19-4) dismissed Liton Das (6 off 16), Soumya Sarkar (Duck), and Mominul Haque (5 off 4 – 1 four) inside the first five overs of the innings.
2018 Asia Cup: Mushfiqur Rahim Show Again
Mushfiqur Rahim and Mohammad Mithun injected 144 runs into the innings in the fourth wicket partnership that turned the tables in Bangladesh’s favor. Although the rest of the batting line-up failed to add serious numbers to the total, Bangladesh still finished with a moderate total of 10/239. Apart from Junaid Khan, new-comer Shaheen Shah Afridi (10-1-47-2) also bowled well whereas the rest of the bowling line-up had nothing much to show for performance.
Pakistan had been struggling with their top-order batsmen right throughout the 2018 Asia Cup. However, they were expected to unleash their aggression on Bangladeshi medium-pacers in the all-important clash. It wasn’t to be as Fakhar Zaman (1 off 4) and Babar Azam (1 off 3) fell cheaply. Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed (10 off 7 – 2 fours) showed a bold attitude by promoting himself up the order at number four but he too fell to a mistake of wrong shot selection, thereby leaving Pakistan in a deep trench.
Once again, it was all left on the experienced shoulders of Shoaib Malik (30 off 51 – 2 fours). He did try to resurrect the innings in company of opener Imam-ul-Haq (83 off 105 – 2 fours, 1 six) as the duo added 67 runs for the fourth wicket association. Shadab Khan (4 off 24) was sent back to the pavilion soon after Shoaib Malik perished.
Pakistan needed a big partnership to revive the run-chase. Imam-ul-Haq was looking great at one end but there was no support at the other. Asif Ali (31 off 47 – 3 fours) played a mature inning and piled up 71 runs for the sixth wicket partnership. The run-chase was on yet again for Pakistan at 5/165 in the 40th over, needing another 75 runs from 65 balls. However, Pakistan failed to present a strong character and they could manage a total of 9/202 from their 50 overs, thanks to some aggressive bowling by Mustafizur Rahman (10-2-43-4). Mehidy Hasan Miraz (10-1-28-2) also bowled a miser spell whereas other bowlers also chipped in with decent spells for Bangladesh.
2018 Asia Cup Final
Bangladesh will take on India in the 2018 Asia Cup final at Dubai International Stadium on Friday.