All-round Afridi leads Pakistan to victory


Shahid Afridi starred with bat and ball as Pakistan made heavy work of chasing down Bangladesh's modest total of 91 in the first ODI in Dhaka on Thursday.

Shahid Afridi starred with bat and ball as Pakistan made heavy work of chasing down Bangladesh's modest total of 91 in a five-wicket win over the Tigers in the first ODI in Dhaka on Thursday.

Much was expected from the home side when they won the toss and opted to bat, but that decision soon came back to haunt skipper Mushfiqur Rahim as they found themselves struggling at 37 for five inside 15 overs.

As he's become accustomed to do in recent matches, Mohammad Hafeez opened the bowling for the visitors and took just four balls to make the breakthrough when he trapped the dangerous Tamim Iqbal plumb in front for a duck. The left-hander looked to play back to a full delivery, but failed to make contact with the ball which appeared to be hitting the leg stump.

Naeem Islam was the next man out as he edged Umar Akmal through to slip where Misbah-ul-Haq took an easy catch.

Skipper Mushfiqur then looked to steady the ship with a captain's knock but he could only manage 11 before being caught behind by Sarfraz Ahmed off Shoaib Malik.

The leg-spin of Afridi (five for 23) then came into the attack and he had the Bangladesh batsmen struggling to read his variations. In his second over Afridi struck twice with the wickets Shahriar Nafees (7) and Mahmudullah (1).

Only Shakib Al Hasan (15) and Nasir Hossain (21) offered much resistance and hope of a recovery with a partnership of 36, but that soon ended when Nasir became Aizaz Cheema's only victim in the 24th over as he was caught by Sarfraz. Shakib followed his partner back to the pavilion two overs later as he became Afridi's third scalp.

Abdur Razzak could only last six balls he edged Saeed Ajmal to Younis Khan for three, leaving Bangladesh on 74 for eight.

Afridi then wrapped up the final two wickets when Farhad Reza was trapped lbw before Shafiul Islam gave Sarfraz a fourth catch in the innings which also wrapped up Afridi's seventh ODI five-wicket haul and handed Bangladesh a measly total of 91 all out in 30.3 overs.

With such a small target to reach the Pakistan openers, Hafeez and Imran Farhat, looked to play themselves in and sedately moved along at just under four runs per over.

In the ninth over Pakistan were let off with a chance when Nasir grassed a relatively easy chance which came off the edge of Farhat's bat and looped to first slip. Fortunately for Nasir, Bangladesh weren't made to pay as he bowled the left-hander the very next over.

There was a mini collapse in the Pakistan side as Hafeez (22), Younis Khan (2) and Sarfraz (2) fell in quick succession to leave them rather concerned on 58 for four at the dinner break.

When play resumed the pressure appeared to have gotten to Umar Akmal as he attempted a poor cut shot off Shakib, but only succeeded in missing it as it crashed into his stumps, giving Bangladesh a sniff of victory.

Afridi then came to the crease to join his skipper Misbah (16 not out) who all the while was happy to play a patient innings and keep the scorecard ticking over. Afridi, however, knows only one way of batting and it showed as he targeted the boundaries. The allrounder hit the winning runs with a cut shot which rolled away to third man for four to complete the five-wicket win and take him to 24 not out.

Pakistan now take a 1-0 lead in the three match series, with the second ODI set to be played on Saturday in Dhaka.