Pakistan defended a total of 135 in the only T20 match against Bangladesh on Tuesday, with considerable ease as the hosts went down by 50 runs despite promising to fight.
Mushfiqur Rahim said before the match that it was time for Bangladesh to stop aiming for "respectable losses" and show they can compete against the best. By the interval, their spinners had laid the groundwork for a confidence-building win at the start of the series, but those hopes fizzled out as Pakistan's varied attack proved far superior. Barely seven overs into the chase, the result was a foregone conclusion.
Pakistan's ruthlessness wasn't surprising. Their bowlers, especially the spinners, downed Sri Lanka in all three formats in the UAE barely a few days before they landed in Bangladesh. That they conceded their first boundary only in the ninth over was an example of their discipline.
Pakistan had their anxious moments with the bat, struggling to post even 135 despite their brisk start, but with the ball in hand, they never gave the hosts an inch. There was an air of expectation from the packed, weekday crowd at the Shere Bangla Stadium when the Bangladesh openers walked out, but the chase had derailed once Pakistan had them struggling at 15 for 3 at the end of five overs.
Umar Gul started the slide when he trapped Naeem Islam in front in the second over. Mohammad Hafeez then had Alok Kapali chipping to midwicket for a duck, and confusion in the calling led to Imrul Kayes' run-out. Save for a drop at long-off by Umar Gul, Pakistan's fielding was sharp.
The more experienced duo of Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim had a tougher task than they would have anticipated, but even they couldn't display any resilience to make the chase more competitive. They didn't have the luxury of time - the run-rate inched along at a rate comparable to modern Test cricket.
Shakib lost his offstump trying to cut Hafeez, and that increased the pressure on Mushfiqur, who struggled to combat Saeed Ajmal's parsimonious bowling from round the wicket. Mahmudullah nicked Aizaz Cheema's first ball of the match, and with the required rate crossing 11, Mushfiqur perished trying to be innovative - a reverse paddle landed just short of short third man, but Nasir wasn't interested in the single, leaving his captain stranded.
A flat-batted swat in the ninth over by Nasir off Cheema gave Bangladesh a release, but it was only momentary as Bangladesh had to wait till the 16th over for their next boundary. The result was inevitable, and the only positive for Bangladesh was the fact that they batted out 20 overs.
It wasn't the easiest outing for Pakistan's batsmen either. It was a tough initiation as Bangladesh played to their strength - spin - to restrict the tourists to 135. Pakistan started brightly after winning the toss, but the going got tough once the slower bowlers - five in all - began operating at either end on a typically dark Dhaka pitch.
The captain Mushfiqur Rahim didn't waste any time getting his spinners on, bringing in Abdur Razzak as early as the second over. The in-form Hafeez went on the attack and while he was around, Pakistan were motoring along at eight an over.
The ninth over was significant for Bangladesh as Shakib managed to keep the aggressive Hafeez quiet for five balls. Determined to break the shackles, Hafeez attempted a slog and lost his wicket. Bangladesh took control after that wicket-maiden.
Asad Shafiq and Shahid Afridi both perished in similar fashion, getting caught in the deep. The captain Misbah tried restoring some order but he kept running out of partners.
The procession of wickets continued when Bangladesh went out to bat. With spin expected to dominate this tour, Bangladesh will have to figure out how to tackle Pakistan's slower bowlers on pitches suited to their style.