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Bangladesh almost famous

Pacer Aizaz Cheema holds his nerve in the final over as Pakistan defeat home heroes by two runs. Nilankur Das reports.Scorecard

india Updated: Mar 23, 2012 00:23 IST
Nilankur Das
Nilankur Das
Hindustan Times
asia cup,bangaldesh vs pakistan,news

One could hear a pin drop at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium when Bangladesh skipper Mushfiqur Rahim was caught in the deep by Nasir Jamshed.

One was rendered inaudible when Mahmudullah and Mashrafe Mortaza hit three fours in an over to rekindle the hosts' hopes of winning their first Asia Cup.

In the end, the 26-year-long wait got prolonged after Pakistan bowled out of their skin to register a two-run victory.

Since playing their first ODI on March 31, 1986, against Pakistan in the Asia Cup, this was Bangladesh's first chance for a title in top-level cricket, but their players fell just short. That it was a thriller, made the climax even more heartbreaking.

Beating the World Cup finalists and running another former winner close to complete a superb show, which spread over three consecutive matches, Bangladesh emerged the tragic heroes of the tournament. Mushfiqur Rahim cried like a baby as Shakib Al Hasan tried to console him. Even the groundsmen were distraught.

Chasing 237, Bangladesh needed nine off the final over, but a composed Aizaz Cheema saved Pakistan the blushes. His effort overshadowed the four consecutive half-centuries by opener Tamim Iqbal, who was included in the Bangladesh squad on second thought.

Pressure catching up
Bangladesh had won half the battle when Mushfiqur won the toss and chose to field. Except for the first two matches, every other game of the tournament was won by the team batting second. Even targets of 290 and 330 were made to look easy in the end. But, the pressure of a final caught up with Bangladesh.

Lack of application by the Pakistan batsmen was covered up by some brave shots from wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed, who remained unbeaten on 46.

They, however, came out to field looking a different team. Shahid Afridi, Younis Khan, skipper Misbah-ul Haq and Umar Akmal all put their heads together in frequent meetings, egged on their bowlers and never let the Bangladesh batsmen take control.

The visitors knew they needed just three wickets - Tamim, Shakib and Mushfiqur, to pin the hosts down.

That they did in the end.

First Published: Mar 22, 2012 13:37 IST