Security concerns had brought a halt to their World T20 preparations as they were forced to play only one warm-up against Sri Lanka on Monday but, like previous ICC tournaments, Pakistan proved their credentials with a impressive Group 2 win in Kolkata.
A subdued showing in the Asia Cup left many questioning their chances to claim their second T20 title, but Mohammad Hafeez top-scored with a rapid half-century before Afridi smacked four sixes as Pakistan finished on 201 for five – only the second time they have scored over 200 in T20 internationals.
The Pakistan captain would then go on to collect the prize wicket of Tamim Iqbal as Bangladesh, who needed a record T20 score to win, struggled to maintain a high run rate, falling short of their target.
Having won the toss, Pakistan chose to bat first and it proved dividends as opener Sharjeel Khan blasted a pair of sixes in the first two overs.
But Sharjeel tried a big shot too many as he was clean bowled by Afafat Sunny attempting to jump down the track in the second over. The introduction of Hafeez, alongside Sharjeel’s fellow opener Ahmed Shehzad, would set a strong platform for Pakistan.
Shehzad bounced back from being dropped for the Asia Cup with his sixth T20 fifty, off 39 balls, as they put on a 95-run partnership for the second wicket.
Sabbir Rahman would eventually force Shehzad into a mis-timed helicopter shot as he was caught at midwicket by Mahmudullah on 52.
Hafeez, who scored 70 in Pakistan’s warm-up win over Sri Lanka, continued his strong form, hitting a 42-ball 64 before succumbing to an early contender for catch of the tournament from Somya Sarkar in the 16th over.
— Brian Lara (@BrianLara) March 16, 2016
The 35-year-old’s slog sweep was heading for six over midwicket but Sarkar, firstly, took it with both hands before his momentum carried him over the boundary, only to throw the ball up to reclaim the catch inside the rope.
Recent Hampshire signing Afridi would produce a swashbuckling innings with 49 off just 19 balls at a strike rate of 257.89. In the midst of Afridi’s inspiring knock, Umar Akmal was caught by Shakib Al Hasan off Taskin Ahmed.
Afridi fell one run short of another T20 fifty as Pakistan set a mammoth total of 201 for five.
Sarkar failed to repeat his exploits in the field as Bangladesh began their run chase in almost the worst way possible with Mohammad Amir bowling the batsman for a second-ball duck.
Rahman became the first of Afridi’s victims in the fifth over before the Pakistan captain collected the prize of in-from Tamim for 24, leaving the Tigers stumbling on 58 for three.
Despite Shakib’s fifty, Bangladesh could only register 7.30 runs per over as Pakistan restricted them to 146 for six.
— James Taylor (@jamestaylor20) March 16, 2016