Pakistan beat Bangladesh, clinch first T20I series

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LAHORE Pakistan defeated Bangladesh by nine wickets in the second T20I at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Saturday. The win gave them their first series win in the format since 2018. Set a modest 137-run target, the hosts’ run-chase suffered an early setback when Ahsan Ali, frustrated by his inability to get off the mark on six attempts,tried an ugly hoick in the second over and was caught, promptingMohammad Hafeez to walk in. Him and captain Babar Azam made surethere were no further setbacksinthe first five overs, at the end of which the score read 33-1. The duo brought up their 50-stand in the 9th over and by the end of the 10th, Pakistan had 68 on the board and cruising towards a series win, barring a Bangladeshi miracle. From that point on,Bangladesh almost found no joy as they bowled bad lines, dropped catch(es) and conceded runs far more frequently than they’d have liked. Babar and Hafeeztook full advantage, completingtheir fifties and gettingtheir side home comfortably with 20 balls to spare and nine wicketsin hand The skipper finished with a 44-ball 66 whereas his veteran partner contributed 67 runs off 49 deliveries. Babar was named the man of the match, although some could arguethatHafeezwasthe more deserving. Earlier,the visitorswonthe toss and decided to bat first — just asthey had doneinthe first T20I. Pakistan did not have to wait long for the first wicket. The breakthrough came in the second over when a fired-up Shaheen Afridi had Mohammad Naim nick one backtothe keeperMohammad Rizwan. While the stadium was the same asthe firstT20I,the pitch used was a different one and had more grass comparatively. It meant that the pacers were expected to get more joy than they got on the flat track of the opener. Mohammad Hasnain certainly was liking it better as he picked up his first wicket oftheseries, surprising Mahedi Hasan with extra bounce and getting him caught with a top edge. He could have added another, beating Tamim Iqbal with a beautifulinswinger, only for Rizwan to drop the inside edge. The loss of wickets meant that the runs did not flow. At the end of 5 overs, Bangladesh had a mere 27 on board for the loss of two wickets. The game also managed to attract some Pakistani players not picked for the series. Shadab Khan had Liton Das trapped in front of the wicket in a dismissal that was given out, seemed not out from the naked out, but was eventually ruled against the batsman even after the review. The ball would have nicked the leg stump by the smallest of margins. At the end of 10, Bangladesh were 57-3 and clearly struggling for runs and any sort of rhythm. Their only hope was that Tamim Iqbal was still there. Tamim and young Afif Hossain formed a 45-run partnership but just when Bangladesh needed them to accelerate, Hasnain bowled an excellent 15th over and had the youngster caught at third man.—Agencies