Pakistan's three-man pace attack kept Bangladesh in check as the visitors managed 141-5 in their 20 overs
Recalled Shoaib Malik smashed a solid half-century to anchor Pakistan's five-wicket win over Bangladesh in the first Twenty20 international (T20I) in Lahore on Friday.
Malik scored 45-ball 58 not out for his eighth Twenty20 fifty as Pakistan overhauled a modest 142-run target in 19.3 over to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Bangladesh had managed 141-5 in their 20 overs with openers Mohammad Naim scoring 41-ball 43 and Tamim Iqbal hit 34-ball 39 as Pakistan's three-man pace attack kept them in check on a flat Gadaffi stadium pitch.
Malik, playing his first match since February last year, was in sublime form as he hit five boundaries and added 46 for the third wicket with debutant Ahsan Ali who made 32-ball 36 with four boundaries.
Malik, fourth leading run-getter in Twenty20 internationals with 2321 in a record 112 matches, credited bowlers for the win.
"Congratulations to the whole Pakistan for this win and for hosting another match," said Malik. "It wasn't an easy pitch and our bowlers restricted them to a gettable total. I am happy to help achieve this win in a chase.”
"It's tough to be in and out of the team but I have been playing leagues and domestic cricket and that helped me stage a comeback in this match,” he added.
But Pakistan's chase was initially jolted when they lost world number one Twenty20 batsman Babar Azam on only the second ball into their innings, caught behind off an inside edge off fast bowler Shafiul Islam.
Another recalled batsman Mohammad Hafeez hit three crisp boundaries and was looking in good touch before he miscued a flick and was caught off Mustafizur Rahman for 17.
Malik and Ahsan resurrected Pakistan innings and took Pakistan to 81 before Iftikhar Ahmed (16) added a further 36 for the fourth wicket.
"When Ahsan was batting he showed so much confidence. It wasn't easy on such a difficult pitch. Credit to him he stuck with me & that was the turning point,” said Malik. “We had to conserve wickets & also score. It's a good sign that a youngster was a key part of the win."
Shoaib Malik to groom Misbah?
Malik made his international before Pakistan’s current head coach-cum-chief selector and is still representing Pakistan in T20 Internationals.
A reporter took this opportunity to ask Malik a light-hearted question in post-match press conference on his vast experience in international cricket.
“Shoaib, as you said, being an experienced player it is your responsibility to groom youngsters in the team. So, being a senior cricketer than your coach Misbah-ul-Haq, will you groom him too?” asked reporter.
The veteran all-rounder kept his composure and gave a very dignified response supporting Men in Green’s coach.
“See, no one in this world can say that he has learned everything. The learning process never ends in anyone’s life,” he said. “Actually, we expect overnight results which are not possible. We need to wait if someone is capable of delivering."
Meanwhile, Bangladesh skipper rued the missed chances in the field and appreciated Malik’s inning as a senior batsman.
"Shoaib Bhai played very well, he played a brilliant knock, his innings was the highlight of the Pakistan batting. He held the batting together and showed the other guys how to approach the target on that kind of wicket," Mahmudullah said.
We discuss the major issues surrounding Pakistan cricket in Talk Cricket with Saleem Khaliq20/Sep/2020