Pakistan overcome hiccups for seven-wicket win

Pakistan 131 for 3 (Malik 63*, Akmal 50*, Javed 3-36) beat UAE 129 for 6 (Anwar 46, Amir 2-6, Irfan 2-30) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Umar Akmal’s unbeaten 50 came off 46 balls © Getty Images

UAE’s decision to bat seemed a bit like someone doing away with the veggies so they could get to the meat quicker. All their captain Amjad Javed hoped for was “120 to 130” runs; they got 129. Pakistan tried to sink their teeth into the target and suddenly found it was more than they could chew. The top three fell by the time the fourth over of the chase began, but Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal buckled down and took Pakistan to a seven-wicket victory in Mirpur.

While that margin indicates it was all hunky dory, Javed’s new-ball burst and the way he could rally his team together had given UAE a strong chance to record their first victory against a Full Member. He took three wickets off his first seven balls to make his team believe, and then made sure they did not waver by slinging his arm around every one of his bowlers while he was at the top of his run-up and clapping his hands until they stung.

Pakistan were 17 for 3 when Akmal and Malik got together. They recognised the momentum was with UAE, but knew they could turn it around. They just had to bide their time, to keep their wickets intact and take the chase deep so that the ball wouldn’t be swinging and their experience could trump UAE’s adrenaline. The first boundary of their fourth-wicket partnership came off the 15th ball and the next one came off the 31st but overhauling a target of 130 doesn’t take pyrotechnics. Just patience.

There was a moment when UAE could have stormed back. With 40 runs to win from 26 balls, Malik dragged a Mohammad Shahzad bouncer from outside off and the resulting top-edge seemed destined for deep square leg’s hands but Usman Mushtaq, who was brought into the XI in place of Saqlain Haider, dropped it. Malik reached his fifty with a four and a six off the next two balls he faced and along with Akmal sealed Pakistan’s victory with their unbeaten 114-run partnership.

Javed was in uproar when the catch went down. He could have had a match-winning three-wicket haul after all. He dismissed Sharjeel Khan lbw, but replays showed the ball would have climbed over the stumps. Two balls later, Khurram Manzoor was caught behind playing an unwise cut against a rising ball that didn’t give him the requisite room to free his arms.

Javed’s final wicket of the night though came about because of the room he offered to the batsman. Mohammad Hafeez thought he had an easy put away through the covers but failed to keep his drive down much to the glee of one of UAE’s best fielder Fahad Tariq. The one over he saved for the death turned out to be dreadful as Malik and Akmal caned 23 off it to pull ahead.

Full report to follow…

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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