Bangladesh began their Twenty20 international series campaign in Pakistan on a losing note when they conceded a five-wicket defeat in the first of three-match series at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Friday.
Shoaib Malik starred with the bat with an unbeaten 58 off 45 balls in his first Twenty20 appearance for Pakistan in nearly a year, guiding the home side to 142-5 in 19.3 overs after their bowlers had restricted Bangladesh to 141-5 in their stipulated overs.
Bangladesh were left ruing for their lack of firepower in the middle and lower-middle order which restricted them to mediocrity after Mohammad Naim and Tamim Iqbal provided them a foundation with a 71-run opening stand.
On a pitch, where the ball came late, Tamim and Naim took an ultra-cautious approach to concede as many as 28 dot balls in the first 10 overs.
Just when they looked set to capitalise on their start both were out making 39 and 43 runs respectively and middle-order crumbled almost immediately to leave them at least 20 runs short from a competitive score.
Bowlers tried to make it a game out of their below-par score as Shafiul Islam took the prized scalp of Pakistani captain Babar Azam off the second ball of the innings before a wayward Mustafizur Rahman kept Pakistan limited to 36-2 in the first six overs of batting power-play.
Babar, who never got out for a duck in his previous 36 T20 internationals, got an inside-edge, which wicketkeeper Liton Das gladly accepted inches above the ground.
An unconvinced Babar reviewed the decision but both the edge and catch came clean in replay, forcing him to trudge back.
Mustafiz then forced Mohammad Hafeez to give a catch to Aminul Islam at short extra cover to revive Bangladesh’s hope.
However, Malik and debutant Ahsan Ali regained the control with 46-run stand for the third wicket before leg-spinner Aminul broke the partnership by dismissing Ahsan for 36.
Shafiul (2-27) and Al-Amin took two more wickets but Malik stayed calm to take his side close.
Any outside chance Bangladesh had to comeback in the game had gone once substitute Nazmul Hossain dropped Malik off Mustafiz at long off with Pakistan still needing 17 runs.
The ball raced past to the boundary after Nazmul put it down, bringing Malik’s eighth Twenty20 fifty, which ended the game as contest.
The match ended comically after Mohammad Mithun dropped Mohammad Rizwan in the third ball of the final over as Pakistan completed their win with the resulting double.
Earlier, Tamim, playing his first match for Bangladesh in nearly six months, looked set for a big innings after his initially hard work, but his dogged 34-ball inning ended through a run out in the 11th over in a desperate attempt for a second run.
Leg-spinner Sadab Khan then made a double breakthrough, first accomplishing the run out of Liton Das for 12 before removing set batsman Naim in the next delivery.
Afif Hossain (nine) and Soumya Sarkar (seven) also failed to play their roles of accelerating the run rate with their untimely dismissals.
Haris Rauf rattled the stumps of Afif with sheer pace for his maiden international wicket while Soumya fell to read a slower of Shaheen Afridi and was bowled.
Mahmudullah and Mohammad Mithun remained unbeaten on 19 and five respectively as the visitors just were able to make 41 runs in their last five overs, which was never going to be enough.
The second match will take place today at the same venue.
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