Pakistan wins Asia Cup by 2 runs
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) – Pakistan won its second Asia Cup cricket title when it beat Bangladesh by two runs in a thrilling final on Thursday.
In a match which riveted fans to the final ball, Pakistan tallied 236-9 in its 50 overs, then stalled Bangladesh on 234-8 in a raucous Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.
In a dramatic final over, Bangladesh needed 9 to win. Pakistan messed up when it conceded three runs off the third-to-last ball with a wayward throw and an overthrow. That left 4 to win off 2 balls.
But then Abdur Razzak played a slower ball off fast bowler Aizaz Cheema onto his stumps, stranding the in-form Mahmadullah at the non-striker’s end. New batsman Shahadat Hossain had to hit four runs off the last ball to give Bangladesh its maiden Asia Cup title, but he managed a yorker on leg stump with only a leg bye, causing the Pakistanis to jump around in joy.
Their only other triumph in the 28-year Asia Cup was in 2000, also on Bangladesh soil.
While Cheema took 3-46, it was the Pakistan spinners, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi, who tied down Bangladesh’s chase for victory.
Cheema made a telling double blow when he bowled the brilliant Shakib Al Hasan for 68 (off 72 balls) and dismissed captain Mushfiqur Rahim for 10 within two overs of each other, leaving Pakistan 190-6 in the 46th over.
Still, Bangladesh almost got there. Mashrafe bin Mortaza hit 18 off 9 balls, Mahmudullah took 16 balls to finish 17 not out, and Razzak used 8 deliveries to make 6.
Tamim Iqbal opened with 60 off 68 balls for his fourth successive half century, but it was Pakistan’s bowlers who shone in the end.
Afridi, 1-28 off 10 overs, was named man of the match. Hafeez conceded only 30 in his 10-over allotment, and Ajmal took 2-40.
For Pakistan, Sarfraz Ahmed top-scored with 46 not out.
Opener Mohammad Hafeez made 40, Afridi 32, and Umar Akmal and Hammad Azam both hit 30.
Pakistan made a slow start and was 55-3 due to some tight bowling and fielding by Bangladesh, but a final over of 19 runs helped the team post a defendable total.
The sloppy final over came from Hossain, who conceded 63 from nine overs and failed to bowl a maiden or take a wicket. His spell was a gift for struggling Pakistan as it also included three no balls and two wides.
Razzak led the attack by taking 2-26 from 10 overs, including three maidens. Shakib and Mortaza each took two wickets after Bangladesh won the toss and sent Pakistan in to bat.
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