Shoaib Malik’s come-back helped Pakistan register first win, but denying Bangla Desh credit for gallant fight back would be injustice

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SALAHUDDIN HAIDER (comment—youcan use the scory and score card separately) In-and-out Shoaib Malik’s come-back helped Pakistan take a 1-0 lead in first of the three T-20 Internationals in Lahore Friday, but denying credit for the gallant fight back to a Bangla Desh team, without some of their key players, will be sheer injustice. A slow Gaddafi Stadium wicket but fast outfield, turned out to be interesting ingredient in a match where both sides, struggled hard to put up a big score, forcing critics to admit that it was a well fought-out fixture but lacked luster, thrills and excitement, normally associated with a T-20 gama. However the fact that cricket is on the threshold of revival in Pakistan, does augur well for the future, Sri Lanka came here last year, and Bangla Desh, reluctant for several weeks a visit after 12 years, finally had to admit that the security had improved greatly in Pakistan, and now travel advisories needed a fresh look by England, Australia, South Africa as well. The certification from visiting skipper Mahmoodullah about security situation in Pakistan, was itself a guarantee for others to review their perceptions about Pakistan. Two brilliant run outs of Tamim Iqbal by wicket keeper Rizwan, and Rauf and then a superb throw from Shadab off his own bowling fetched Liton Das scalp. Two wickets in one over of leg spinner Shadab proved the turning point, and the opening stand of 71 fromMohammad Nasim, scoring 39 and 43 respectively,was all in vain. Two dropped catches by visitors, one of Shoaib Malik also was a major difference. Pakistan fielding and bowling after the fall of first wicket also contributed to restricting the tourists to 141 for 5, which Pakistan collected with three balls to spares. Yet another factor helping home sideto go one-upin series, was superb running between wickets by Pakistani batsmen. Skipper Babar Azam was unlucky to be out second ball of very first over, ultra edge to wicket keeper, which review showed Liton Das had grounded the ball, but umpires gave akistani opener out. But bad umpiring is persistently being witnessed since the World Cup this summer. New Zealand had actually won the title, it had been trying to win. But Sri Lankan umpire, whose couple of other decisions too were open to question, gave an extra run to England. However after Hafeez, recalled after a rather long interruption, played some beautiful strokes, and looked like making to the target much more than anticipated, top edged an attempted pull to mid wicket, bur Shaoib Malik and Itfikhar played superbly, taking singles on almost every delivery with just a couple of exceptions. That made the difference ultimately. Emad, Shadab did not last long, but Malik’s presence had brought the target within reach in 1th over. Pakistan did win, but should not under-estimate the rivals, who proved a tough opponent, dropped catches, and failure to hit the stumps when Pakistanis were stealing cheeky singles, contribute.