Pakistan come through Bangladesh fright

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Pakistan got the defence of their World Twenty20 title off to a sound start with a 21-run win over Bangladesh at the Beausejour Stadium on Saturday.

Updated: May 02, 2010 08:25 IST
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St Lucia:

Pakistan got the defence of their World Twenty20 title off to a sound start with a 21-run win over Bangladesh at the Beausejour Stadium on Saturday.

Victory was built around a huge first wicket stand of 142 between Kamran Akmal and man-of-the-match Salman Butt, who both made 73.

It was the third highest opening partnership in all Twenty20 internationals and just shy of the tournament record of 145 posted by the West Indies duo of Chris Gayle and Devon Smith against South Africa at Johannesburg in 2007.

The win more than atoned for Pakistan's warm-up loss to Zimbabwe and set them up nicely for their Group A match on Sunday against Australia, who also lost to the Africans in the preliminaries.

This match looked all over when Bangladesh were 31 for two in the sixth over of their reply.

But Mohammad Ashraful (65) and captain Shakib Al Hasan (47) kept Bangladesh in the game with a third-wicket stand of 91 in 10 overs.

Ashraful, whose fifty came off 38 balls, struck Pakistan captain and leg-spinner Shahid Afridi for six high over long-off and Shakib struck Hafeez for two big sixes over long-on.

With five overs left, Bangladesh needed 53 runs for an improbable win.

But, two balls later, Shakib holed out off Mohammad Sami to long-off.

"They played very well, it was very mature cricket but I knew I had a few overs from pacers such a Sami and Aamer so I was totally confident," said Afridi.

Shakib said Bangladesh had paid the price for poor early overs in both innings.

"We didn't start well with the ball and we didn't start well with the bat. In the shorter version of game it's very hard to come back if you don't start well," said Shakib.

"Fifty runs in five overs, that was chaseable. If either of us had stayed in until the 20th over, it could have been a different game."

Sami turned 122 for three into 123 for four when he had Mahmudullah caught at point.

Ashraful though was undaunted driving Afridi for six and Bangladesh's target was down to 38 off 18 balls.

However, his innings ended when he was caught behind by diving wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal off left-arm quick Mohammad Aamer, having faced 49 balls with three sixes and six fours.

But a target of 32 off 12 balls proved just beyond Bangladesh, who finished on 151 for seven.

Sami took three wickets for 29 runs and Aamer two for 16.

Earlier Kamran Akmal was dropped on 13 by Ashraful, running back at mid-on, off Mashrafe Mortaza, whose four overs cost 39 runs.

Fellow paceman Abdur Razzak's four overs were even more expensive, going for 41 runs.

Butt's stylish fifty took just 29 balls, with two sixes and six fours, while Akmal, who looked to be scoring the quicker of the pair, reached the landmark in 43 balls, with six boundaries.

Akmal was the initial aggressor, pulling Shafiul Islam for four and then somehow striking a low leg-stump full toss from the same bowler through the covers for another boundary.

But Butt was soon into his stride, going down on one knee to hoist Abdur Razzak over midwicket for six.

Akmal exited by slapping a Shakib full toss to cover while Butt was clean bowled by Shafiul as he tried to reverse sweep a straight ball.

Bangladesh opener Imrul Kayes's exited for nought in the first over as he skied the lively Aaamer saw him sky to Misbah-ul-Haq at short third man.

And spinner Mohammad Hafeez then struck third ball to have Tamim Iaqbal caught and bowled.

Bangladesh finish the group phase against Australia in Barbados on May 5.

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