World Twenty20: Shahid Afridi stars as Pakistan crush Bangladesh

By James GheerbrantBBC Sport
ICC World Twenty20 Super 10s, Group 2, Kolkata
Pakistan 201-5 (20 overs): Hafeez 64 (42), Shehzad 52 (39), Afridi 49 (19), Taskin 2-32
Bangladesh 146-6 (20 overs): Shakib 50 not out, Amir 2-27, Afridi 2-27
Pakistan won by 55 runs
Scorecard and tables

Pakistan cruised to victory in their opening match of the World Twenty20 as they crushed Bangladesh by 55 runs.

Batting first in Kolkata, Pakistan built a huge total of 201-5, with Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad both making brisk fifties in a stand of 95.

Captain Shahid Afridi then added late impetus with a brilliant cameo of 49 from 19 balls.

In reply, Bangladesh mustered only 146-6, as Afridi and Mohammad Amir took two wickets apiece.

The Tigers entered the tournament with high hopes following a strong performance at the Asia Cup, where they beat Pakistan en route to the final, but they appear no closer to shaking off the tag of perennial also-rans at global tournaments.

Pakistan meanwhile top Group 2 and victory in their next match against India on Saturday would see them take a big step towards the semi-finals - and leave their rivals on the brink of elimination from their home tournament.

Afridi back with a boom

All-rounder Afridi, 37, entered this tournament with question marks hanging over his ability to contribute in the shortest format, with just 17 runs and three wickets in his past six Twenty20 internationals.

But on the biggest stage, he answered his critics in the most emphatic possible fashion - first with the bat and then the ball.

Coming to the crease with Pakistan already well set at 121-2 and 6.1 overs remaining, Afridi took the innings into overdrive with a belligerent knock containing four fours and four sixes.

Scoring particularly heavily down the ground on the leg-side, he moved to within one run of the fastest T20 international fifty by a Pakistan batsman before he picked out the man at deep square leg with two balls of the innings remaining.

Afridi then took centre-stage with his leg-spin, first removing the dangerous Sabbir Rahman with a brilliant delivery which skidded on to the leg stump.

And he then effectively ended the contest with the crucial wicket of Tamim Iqbal - his 37th in World T20 tournaments, one short of the record held by Sri Lanka's Lasith Malinga.

Amir shows his class

Mohammad Amir celebrates a wicket
Mohammad Amir was a member of Pakistan's winning squad in the 2009 World T20

The match was also notable for the return to the world stage of fast bowler Mohammad Amir, playing in his first major tournament since the 2010 World T20 after serving a five-year ban for spot-fixing.

The 23-year-old didn't take long to make an impact, ripping one through the defences of Soumya Sarkar with his third delivery as Bangladesh's reply got off to the worst possible start.

Returning later in the innings, he then produced an excellent slower ball to outfox Mushfiqur Rahim, who was caught behind.

He should have had another wicket, with Ahmed Shehzad spilling an easy chance off Shakib al-Hasan, but his own fielding was secure, claiming a good boundary catch to dismiss Mohammad Mithun.

With Amir looking back to somewhere near his best, as part of a dangerous left-arm pace trio with Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Irfan, Pakistan will have high hopes of building on this opening victory.

What they said

Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi: "My performances play a key role, but I was hungry. I was keen to perform well for my country in this event. It's a big event as captain, as senior player, I had to lead by example.

"I think from the last two or three series, the batsman struggled to find runs. Hafeez and Shehzad did very well.

"I don't want to talk about the past, we should learn from our mistakes and India [who Pakistan play next] have been playing good cricket, even with the last loss. Captaincy is not an easy job, but when the team gives you 100%, I enjoy it."

Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza: "Two hundred is always difficult with Pakistan's bowling attack and after six overs it was almost impossible. Shakib batted very well and we got 150, so its not that bad.

"We have to bowl better, we didn't bowl well today. First six overs we couldn't get much runs with the bat either. You can't practice much, you have to be mentally strong.

"With [next opponents] Australia's batting, it will be hard and Bangalore wicket will be flat. The bowling group must bring better plans."

What's next?

Pakistan face India in Kolkata on Saturday (14:00 GMT), while Bangladesh's next game is against Australia in Bangalore on Monday (14:00 GMT).

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