Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bangladesh v UAE, Group A, Asia Cup, Lahore

Bangladesh 300 for 8 (Ashraful 109, Raqibul 83) beat

UAE 204 (Khan 78, Razzaq 3-20) by 96 runs

Mohammad Ashraful adopted a cautious approach to make the second century of his career as Bangladesh cruised to a comfortable 96-run over UAE during their Asia Cup opener in Lahore. He was supported by Raqibul Hasan, who made his second-successive 80-plus knock as the duo put on 141 off 122 balls. There was more reason to celebrate for Bangladesh when left-arm Abdur Razzaq became the third bowler from the country to take 100 wickets when he ended Khurram Khan's battling 78.

The UAE seamers had a tough time settling in after Bangladesh chose to bat, conceding six wides in the first two overs. Bangladesh, though, did not make use of the freebies when the over-eager Nazimuddin flirted with a perfectly-bowled outswinger from Zahid Shah. Ashraful, off the very next ball, had a lucky escape when an inside edge missed the stumps. Ashraful had two more doses of good fortune, but the signs were ominous when he latched on to a short delivery from Amjad Javed. Meanwhile, Tamim Iqbal, who struggled to get going initially, flicked Alhashmi to the fine-leg boundary to bring up Bangladesh's fifty and move into double figures. Ashraful then played a copybook extra cover drive against the wayward Javed Amjad to bring up the fifty-run stand.

The introduction of spin slowed things down, but suprisingly, offspinner Mohammad Tauqir was not used after conceding only six runs off three overs. Against the run off play, Tamim failed to heed Ashraful's call to avoid an unnecessary third run in the 24th over. As though venting his frustration at the run out, Ashraful played a stunning inside-out shot to reach his half-century followed by another scorcher to the extra cover boundary off Silva, though it grazed the hands of the cover fieldsman.

Raqibul, who batted with verve and purpose, made his intentions clear by lofting the left-arm spinner, Khan, one-bounce to long-on. Ashraful then hit two successive boundaries against the same bowler, and ran sharp singles and twos with Raqibul as he moved from 73 to 100 without the aid of a boundary.

UAE were suddenly under the cosh when Raqibul went on attack-mode, taking three boundaries apiece against Khurram and legspinner Arshad Ali as he picked up 27 from nine balls. Raqibul, though, missed out on a golden opportunity to reach his maiden ton, when a top-edged pull sailed to the 'keeper Amjad Ali, and UAE could have gotten two in two had Amjad held on to a catch off Ashraful at long leg. Ashraful was run out soon after and he was one of four wickets which fell within fifteen balls. Dollar Mahmud ensured that they did not muddle up the finish, making 19 off 9 to take Bangladesh to their highest score away from home.

Amjad Javed gave UAE a flying start by taking ten runs off the first over bowled by Mashrafe Mortaza to the cover boundary off the first ball of the innings before striking him over long-on on the sixth. But Mortaza extracted his revenge when he induced a top-edge from Javed, which was pouched by Tamim Iqbal. Indika Batuwitarachichi lasted only two balls, trapped by Shahadat Hossain.

The two Ali's, Arshad and Amjad did not the early wickets faze them, taking the attacking route. Amjad was particularly impressive, twice driving the ball past the covers and once straight down the ground, but the shot which stood out was a flick off Mashrafe to the midwicket boundary which had a certain Caribbean flair attached to it. Arshad almost matched that stroke with a powerful pull off Shahadat. The duo had raised 32 off 28 balls, but their promising stand was stalled when left-arm spinner Abdul Razzaq, introduced in the ninth over, got Amjad to edge to first slip with his first ball.

Arshad kept up the fight, punishing a couple of short balls from Dollar Mahmud. But when spin was introduced at both ends, UAE found the runs hard to come by. Mahmudullah, bowling quickish offbreaks, then accounted for UAE's captain, Saqib Ali, who cut him uppishly to Shahadat at backward point.

Khan survived a couple of close lbw appeals, but got going by striking Mahmudullah for a couple of attractive boundaries, one to long-on and then past extra-cover. The 47-run fifth-wicket stand between Khan and Arshad ended when the latter mishit Mahmudullah to Raqibul at midwicket. With the wickets falling in regular intervals, Khan let loose a barrage of aggressive strokes. He reached his maiden half-century in the 38th over bowled by Mahmud, during which a misdirected throw from Ashraful gave him four additional runs. After Khan holed out to Razzak, Alok Kapali helped himself to a brace of wickets to bring the match to a close.

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