LAHORE: Pakistan on Friday won the first Twenty20 International against Bangladesh by five wickets in Lahore, courtesy of a superb half-century by veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik.
The hosts, who were chasing a target of 142 runs set by Bangladesh, reached their goal with three balls to spare in the first contest of a three-match series.
Malik (58 off 45) remained the top scorer for Pakistan while opener Ahsan Ali, who made his T20 debut today, contributed 36 runs off 32 balls.
Bangladesh, who had won the toss and opted to bat on a flat Gaddafi Stadium pitch, earlier finished their allotted 20 overs at 141-5.
Only openers Mohammad Naim, who hit 43 off 41 and Tamim Iqbal, who made 39 from 34, batted with authority.
The first T20I between Pakistan and Bangladesh is underway at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore after the Tigers won the toss and opted to bat first.
The Tigers started their innings confidently, not taking any risks but still finding a boundary here and there. Mohammad Naim, the 19-year-old opener, was the more prominent of the two Bangladeshi openers through the first five overs. At this stage, the visitors were 29-0.
Haris, the Lahore Qalandars pacer and debutant, was introduced in the sixth over amid loud cheers. He generated decent pace but was hit for a four on the second ball of his T20I career by Tamim Iqbal.
Iqbal copped a nasty one trying to pull Mohammad Hasnain in the 7th over but executed the stroke with perfection the very next ball, and hitting a four as Bangladesh neared the 50-run mark.
At the halfway mark, the visitors were 62-0, hoping to accelerate in the second half of their innings courtesy the wickets in hand.
The opening breakthrough finally came in the 11th over when Tamim Iqbal fell short while trying to reach the crease. He contributed 39 off 34 balls.
With boundaries proving hard to come by, the Tigers took more risk than usual and lost Liton Das (12), also to a run-out. Shadab Khan had Naim (43 off 41) caught at long-on the very next ball as Bangladesh were pegged back significantly.
With just five overs left, Bangladesh had a mere 100 on board with seven wickets left.
Haris, the crowd favourite, picked up the first wicket of his T20I career in the 18th over, cleaning up Afif Hossain (9).
Visiting Sri Lanka on Friday won the toss and opted to bat first against host Pakistan in first T20I here at Qaddafi Stadium, Lahore.
The Pakistan cricket team is hoping to maintain its dominance in the world ranking and also prove to the woeld once again that it is ready to host international cricket when the green-shirts take on Bangladesh in a Twenty20 series starting today (Friday).
If the host team lose just one of the three matches scheduled they will slide to second behind England or India in the rankings after holding the top spot since January 2018.
But they also want to show the security situation has improved enough for the team to start regularly hosting home internationals.
Following an attack in 2009 by militants on a convoy ferrying the Sri Lanka team to a fixture in Lahore, Pakistan became a wilderness for the national side who had to play its home fixtures in the Middle East.That ended in December when Sri Lanka returned to give Pakistan their first home series in a decade.
The first priority for skipper Babar Azam is to stay top of the world in the shortest international version of the game.
“The focus is to continue the number one ranking,” said Babar on Thursday.
“We can hang on to that only if we win all three matches, so its a do-or-die situation and we have planned for that,” he told a press conference.
Pakistan’s rise started in 2016 under Sarfaraz Ahmed as they won eleven consecutive Twenty20 series — before losing three on the trot.
A poor finish in the 50-over World Cup in England, where they failed to reach the semi-finals, resulted in the sacking of Sarfaraz and head coach Mickey Arthur, to be replaced by Azam and Misbah-ul-Haq respectively.
The team remained in a slump in Australia late last year, losing 2-0 in the Twenty20s and by the same margin in two Tests.
Now the selectors have recalled veterans Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik, but they need all the experience they can get.
Bangladesh, who last toured Pakistan in 2008, are coming off the back of an impressive series in India, where they won one of their three matches.
They also have a 2-1 advantage against Pakistan in the last three Twenty20 internationals.
“We have been good,” said Bangladesh skipper Mahmudullah. “We want to do well in Pakistan.”
Mahmudullah said security fears had been left behind in Bangladesh.
“We feel good in Pakistan… so the focus will be on cricket.”
Pakistan: Babar Azam (capt), Ahsan Ali, Amad Butt, Iftikhar Ahmed Haris Rauf, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Musa, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Usman Qadir
Bangladesh: Mahmudullah (capt), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Mohammad Naim, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Liton Das, Mohammad Mithun, Afif Hossain, Mahedi Hasan, Aminul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Shafiul Islam, Al-Amin Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Hasan Mahmud