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Hafeez stars as Pakistan tame Tigers

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Mohammad Hafeez

Mohammad Hafeez pulls en route to a patient 89 in Dhaka. His was the most significant contribution in Pakistan's total of 262 for eight

Mohammad Hafeez impressed with bat and ball as Pakistan kicked off the Asia Cup with a battling 21-run victory over hosts Bangladesh in Dhaka.

Hafeez top-scored with 89 from 126 balls and shared an opening stand of 135 with Nasir Jamshed, who contributed 54, but Pakistan struggled to build on their solid platform and were subsequently restricted to 262 for eight.

Tamim Iqbal contributed 64 to Bangladesh’s reply before becoming the first of two victims in as many balls from Hafeez. After Shakib, who matched Tamim’s score, had shared 89 with youngster Nasir Hossain to seemingly put his side in control, the Tigers then lost their final five wickets for 17 to fall narrowly short.

Umar Gul claimed three of the late scalps to finish with 3-58 from 9.1 overs, the seamer having earlier chipped in with a vital 25-ball 39 at the end of Pakistan’s innings.

After Mushfiqur Rahim had elected to field first, Pakistan made a wonderful start through Hafeez and Jamshed, the latter favouring the on-side en route to his fifth one-day international half-century.

Hafeez initally struggled, his lack of footwork frequently getting him into trouble against the Bangladesh seamers, but gradually improved and progressed to 50 from 72 balls, 13 more than his partner.

When Bangladesh finally made a breakthrough in the 28th over, it was courtesy of a run-out as Shakib produced a strong throw from point to account for Jamshed.

Younus Khan made just 12 before popping a leading edge into the off side off Shahadat Hossain, who then had Hafeez and Asad Shafiq caught on the pull in successive overs.

Wickets continued to tumble as Pakistan lurched to 198 for seven; Shakib dismissing Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi in the space of four balls before Abdur Razzak bowled Misbah-ul-Haq.

However, Gul then dominated an eighth-wicket stand of 53 inside eight overs with wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed, the tailender clubbing five fours and a six in a valuable cameo.

An uncharacteristically patient Tamim put on 45 with both Nazimuddin, who drove superbly, and Jahurul Islam to steer Bangladesh into a promising position.

Yet when the left-handed opener and Mahmudullah fell in quick succession to Hafeez to leave Bangladesh on 135 for five, hopes of a home win appeared to be fading.

It was left to Shakib to lead a revival, he and Nasir counter-attacking superbly before the 20-year-old was bowled by Gul for 47.

Things swiftly went awry for Bangladesh thereafter, Saeed Ajmal bowling Razzak and Mashrafe Mortaza for one apiece before Gul wrapped things up by dismissing Shafiul Islam without scoring and bowling Shakib via an inside edge.