Bangladesh raced to a 4-wicket victory against defending champions Pakistan in their group-stage encounter on Day 4 of the U-19 World Cup.

The last time the teams had met, in the U-19 Afro-Asian Cup in India, Bangladesh had won by just one wicket. Pakistan had said that five of their first-team members had been missing, they were back on this occasion. Bangladesh similarly strengthened their team with five new faces. All was set for another even encounter.

Put into bat and cruising at 60 for 0 after 10 overs, Pakistan would have been eyeing a high score but as soon as the spinners came on, Bangladesh got right back in the game. Sakib Al Hasan bowled with flight and turn to have four batsmen in a row miscuing drives inside the circle and at the other end, Nabil Samad reeled off six consecutive overs for just four runs. Nothing much that Pakistan attempted went their way as the Bangladeshi spinners bowled 208 deliveries for just 109 runs, taking nine wickets between them. Ali Asad, the left-hander managed 38 but it took 70 deliveries. With Bangladesh bowling 19 wides, Pakistan made 170 before being dismissed at the start of the 44th over.

Mehdi Hassan plays and misses

In reply, Bangladesh were positive from the start and huff and puff as the Pakistani pacemen did, they were up against batsmen who were ruthless against anything off-line and a couple of dropped catches didn’t help either. Sarfraz Ahmad, Pakistan’s wicket-keeping captain kept his pacebowlers on until the 26th over as he strove to break the back of the Bangladesh’s batting. Anwar Ali Khan, Pakistan’s best bowler on show, found swing and plenty of bounce and there were plenty of plays and misses but it just wasn’t his day.

Wickets did fall, with Bangladesh 119 for 5 at one stage, but the run-rate was always near five an over and batting as deep as they do, Bangladesh were never duly alarmed. Mushfiqur Rahim survived a chance to point, cutting, when he was 21 and the score at 141 off Imad Wasim’s bowling and that was Pakistan’s last bolt shot.

Mushfiqur’s three consecutive boundaries.

With victory in sight two overs later, Rahim helped himself to three consecutive boundaries off the hapless Wasim and then with pace back on swung Akhtar Ayub well in front of square for a six, to tie the scores. The very next delivery he attempted to repeat the shot to a ball bouncing outside off-stump and was caught at mid-wicket for 46. But he and Bangladesh had done enough.

The winning run came off the pads of Sohrawardi Shuvo

Group A, with three Test countries was always going to be tough and with Bangladesh having beaten both of the others, only one Super League qualification spot remains. Defending champions Pakistan are under a little bit of pressure now.

Pakistan’s coach Mansoor Rana said afterwards, “The team know what they have done and what they have to do, it was just one of those days. They will be ready for New Zealand on Friday.”

Bangladesh were back in the nets minutes after the presentation ceremony.

Mushfiqur Rahim challenging his own bowlers

GROUP A: Bangladesh v Pakistan, Nondescripts Cricket Club, Colombo
Bangladesh won the toss and elected to field
Pakistan: 170 off 43.1 overs (N. Jamshed 37, A. Asad 38; S. Al Hasan 4-34)
Bangladesh: 171 for 6 off 34.5 overs (M. Rahim 46)
Man of the Match: Sakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh)

Filed February 9 2006