All the worries over Pakistan, heading into this ICC World T20 2106, was about their batting, particularly the top order. Well, on Wednesday, at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, Pakistan batted those worries away in style en route to picking up a big win over Bangladesh.
Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad struck brilliant half-centuries and Shahid Afridi did the business with the ball and bat as Pakistan romped to a 55-run victory over Bangladesh, who just could not curb the Pakistan batsmen's enthusiasm, with the team in green going on to post a massive total of 201/5 in their 20 overs.
Choosing to bat first, Sharjeel Khan gave Pakistan a quick start, scoring a quick 18 (10b, 1x4, 2x6) to set his team on his way. Momentum is such a big thing in T20 cricket, and Shehzad, a late pick in this Pakistan squad for the WT20, and Hafeez rode that wave pretty well, putting on 95 runs together at well over eight runs an over.
Hitting straight seemed to be the Pakistan mantra in the early part of this innings, with Hafeez (64, 42b, 7x4, 2x6), in particular, playing some delightful shots down the ground. The two right-handers kept the innings rate at around 8.5-9, and when Afridi came in, that run rate got cranked up even further.
The Pakistan skipper elevated himself up the order, once Shehzad (52, 39b, 8x4) got out, and started the slam-bang business in some style. Afridi's 19-ball 49 (4x4, 4x6) completely broke Bangladesh's back, with the Asia cup finalists unable to recover from the assault.
The chase never really got going for Bangladesh, with Soumya Sarkar falling in the first over to Moahmmad Amir, after the left-hander got beaten for pace to see his timber disturbed.
Sabbir Ahmed and Tamim Iqbal, the form batsman of the tournament, tried to build the base needed to, at least, make a game of it, but once Sabbir (29, 19b, 5x4) fell in the sixth over, to Afridi, Bangladesh never recovered.
Tamim (24, 20b, 2x6) could not find the flow, he found so easily in the qualifiers, this time, and with the left-hander also picked up by Afridi (4-0-27-2), it was all over for Bangladesh, who finished on 146/6, with Shakib Al Hasan top-scoring with an unbeaten 50 (40b, 5x4, 1x6).
Next up for Pakistan, a buoyant Pakistan at that, is the big match against India at the same ground on Saturday, while Bangladesh play Australia in Bengaluru Monday.