Pakistan clinch Asia Cup

Bangladesh fall agonisingly short of famous victory

By Joe Drabble - Twitter: @SkySportsDrabs   Last updated: 22nd March 2012   Subscribe to RSS Feed

Shakib Al Hasan during Asia Cup final Bangladesh v Pakistan

Shakib Al-Hasan also passed 50 in a losing cause for Bangladesh

tamim iqbal bangladesh asia cup final

Tamim Iqbal stuck his fourth successive half-century at the tournament

sarfraz ahmed pakistan bangladesh asia cup

Sarfraz Ahmed struck a vital unbeaten 46 down the order to boost his side's total

umar gul pakistan bangladesh

Pakistan celebrate a nerve-racking victory in the final at Dhaka

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Pakistan have been crowned Asia Cup champions for a second time after beating host nation Bangladesh by two runs in a gripping final at Mirpur.

Set a competitive 237 to claim a memorable victory on home soil, Bangladesh fell agonisingly short at the death to ensure Pakistan clinched the title for the first time since 2000.

The Tigers appeared on course for victory when half-centuries from Tamim Iqbal (60) - his fourth in a row in the competition - and Shakib Al-Hasan (68) took them up to 170-3.

A lower-order wobble saw Pakistan assume control, however a nine-ball cameo of 18 from Mashrafe Mortaze put Bangladesh back in contention, with only nine runs required off Aizaz Cheema's final over.

But the Pakistan seamer held his nerve at the death, conceding just six and claiming the wicket of Abdur Razzaq, to leave the home players and fans inside the Shere Bangla National Stadium distraught.

Impressive

Only some late hitting from wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed, who top scored with an unbeaten 46, helped Pakistan to a defendable 236-9.

It could have been worse for Misbah-ul-Haq's side as they struggled in the face of an energetic display from the hosts.

Bangladesh showed little sign of nerves as their bowlers shared the wickets while an impressive fielding display brought the key wicket of Misbah when he was run out by Nasir Hossain's direct hit.

The wickets continued to fall at regular intervals thereafter before Ahmed completed his patch-up job by hitting 19 off the final over from Shahadat Hossain (0-63).

Bangladesh had qualified for their first Asia Cup final following back-to-back wins when chasing and captain Mushfiqur Rahim had no hesitation in sending Pakistan in after winning the toss.

It paid immediate dividends as Nasir Jamshed (nine) and Younus Khan (one) fell inside the opening six overs before Misbah's slight hesitation was punished by a perfect throw from Hossain.

That left Pakistan 55-3 and, following their flying start, Bangladesh were able to focus on applying the pressure on an exposed Pakistan middle-order.

It worked as Mohammad Hafeez's frustration, after managing 40 from 87, finally got the better of him when he was caught trying to clear the infield off Razzak before Hammad Azam offered a simple return chance to Shakib.

Hard-hitting duo Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi both got into the 30s but failed to go on to leave Pakistan in trouble at 178-7.

Ahmed then took it upon himself to haul his side past 200 and, with the tail providing just enough support, launched a blistering attack in the final over to give Pakistan hope.

Progress

Bangladesh made a solid start in reply, Tamim continuing his fine form with eight boundaries in his 68-ball knock of 60.

The aggressive left-hander shared an opening stand worth 68 with Nazimuddin, however the latter's turgid contribution of 16 from 52 balls left Bangladesh behind the required-rate.

Nazimuddin and Jahurul Islam both fell with the score on 68 and only 13 further runs had been added when Tamim mistimed an attempted pull off Umar Gul out to Younus at midwicket.

Nasir Hossain and Shakib helped rebuild the innings with a stand worth 89, however it came off some 19.2 overs to ensure the required-rate remained up near nine-an-over.

Shakib struck seven boundaries and blasted one towering six off Cheema during his almost match-winning 68 off 72 balls, but the Pakistan seamer got his revenge by clean bowling the left-hander in the 44th over.

Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah, two of the home side's major hopes in their quest to cross the finishing line, took their side closer to the target, but Cheema again stalled their progress when he removed the Bangladesh skipper for 10.

Mahmudullah was on strike at the start of the last over with only nine runs required, but he failed to find the rope as Cheema produced a nerveless final flourish.

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