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Old December 21, 2011, 04:50 PM
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Cool & Cool Cup
From safety to defeat
Pakistan win Test series 2-0
Bishwajit Roy


MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Shakib Al Hasan keeps a stump as a souvenir of the second Test where he set a tremendous record taking six wickets and scoring 144 runs. Despite Shakib's heroics, the hosts ended up on the losing side.

An unlikely resistance came from Mushfiqur Rahim and Nasir Hossain on the fifth and final day but their efforts were not good enough for Bangladesh to save the second Test against Pakistan and sign off the year on a bright note yesterday.

Pakistan made a clean sweep by winning all matches on tour when they posted a seven-wicket victory over the Tigers at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, where the home team showed some character through man-of-the-match Shakib Al Hasan's splendid all-round performance after a no-show in the first Test in Chittagong. Bangladesh looked competitive for the first time in the series during the second Test after surrendering meekly in the lone T20, three ODIs and first Test match. The most encouraging part in the second Test was that there had been three sessions in which the Tigers did not lose any wickets, which showed that this Bangladesh line-up were capable of batting with resolve, but the missed catches and poor umpiring undermined what could have been a better performance.

The Tigers' well-documented tendency to collapse was on everybody's minds when they resumed their second innings on 114 for five under foggy condition but the 117-run sixth wicket stand between Mushfiqur and Nasir kept Pakistan waiting for victory till the last session. On the other hand, things could have been different if the Bangladesh captain held his nerve at a crucial moment.

Bangladesh pushed close through brilliant batting from Mushfiqur and Nasir, who guided Bangladesh through the first session without any damage with the scoreboard reading 200 for five, but they fell short of holding on for a draw when an arm ball from left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman bamboozled Nasir, who saw his stumps dismantled.

But still hopes of a draw were alive until Mushfiqur made a mistake. The right-hander unnecessarily went down the pitch to charge Rehman but miscued his chip shot to see the ball landing in the safe hands of Saeed Ajmal at mid-off. That opened the gate for Pakistan to finish off Bangladesh's longish tail.

Nasir top-scored with 79 off 172 balls with eleven boundaries while Mushfiqur his seven fours in his 53 off 143 balls. Their efforts helped Bangladesh score 234 runs in their second innings, leaving Pakistan to achieve chase 103 runs in 40 overs.

Pakistan scored quickly in their chase, wary of the bad light factor and reached the target for the loss of Mohammad Hafeez (47), Taufeeq Umar (3) and Azhar Ali (34) in 20.5 overs.

If playing one session without the loss of a wicket was the high point then the poor shot selection, which has been the main headache of the team for a while, from Mushfiqur was the low point of the final day's play.

The first session belonged entirely to the home team, raising hopes of an honourable draw. They were just another good session away from safety, but Mushfiqur's wicket at the worst possible time spoiled the party for the hosts, leaving a strong Pakistan to end their successful year in the best possible way.

But still, the Tigers can at least take some positives out of this match when they next play a Test, which will once again be after a long break.

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Cool & Cool Cup
Mushfiq takes the blame
Mohammad Isam

The tendency to take risks in a stable position has hurt the Tigers once more though skipper Mushfiqur Rahim owned up to his error in judgment after the seven-wicket defeat to Pakistan in the second Test.

“Of course I will take the blame. If I didn't get out, we could have batted 30 minutes more. I feel guilty for my shot as I let my team down,” said the Bangladesh captain during the post-match press conference at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium yesterday.

Pakistan had just removed Nasir Hossain after seeing the pair add 117 for the sixth wicket in a morning of inspired rearguard action from the Tigers. With three hours to go and an elongated tail to bat with, Mushfiqur thought it wise to charge left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman. But the man who had batted so calmly for his 53 off 143 balls, let out a chipped straight drive that was skied and eventually caught by Saeed Ajmal at mid-off.

It was the last straw as Pakistan took just 38 balls to close off the Bangladesh second innings, restricting the hosts to a total of 234 and a 102-run lead.

“I was set so I thought if I take a chance, I could score 20-30 more runs. My plan was correct but execution was wrong. They only had square-leg back. I tried it earlier but couldn't get to the ball,” he added, though he was not the only guilty party in the second innings.

Mahmudullah Riyad was reckless too, skying an ill-conceived pull shot off Aizaz Cheema late in the fourth evening. “He knows it well that when he got out, it was a bad time. He was having good partnerships with Nazimuddin and Nasir. We have to cut down on some shots in such situations,” said Mushfiqur.

He credited the individual performers though regretted the dropped catches that made the bowling weaker. “I thought there were a couple of good individual performances. I think it's a great feat by Shakib Al Hasan, he bowled really well. He also batted well.”

“It was good from Nazimuddin as a Test player, as well as Nasir Hossain and Shahriar Nafees. Our bowlers created a lot of chances. But we let ourselves down in one department, and that's fielding,” he said.

Nasir, who made 79 on the fifth and final day, said that a drawn game would have made him happier than the century.

“I would have been happier had we played out a draw rather than the century. I wanted to bat till tea, not get the ton.

“But I feel good to score 79 against a team like Pakistan. It wasn't easy, but I was confident. I like batting at five as I can have the other batsmen around me,” said Nasir.

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Cool & Cool Cup
Misbah credits continuity

An in-form Pakistan signed off on a successful year in style when they beat Bangladesh by seven wickets in the second Test at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.

By winning six out of ten Tests Pakistan finished as the second most successful team of the year after England and captain Misbahul Haq played a pivotal role in leading the team out of all the controversies surrounding Pakistan cricket.

“When we started playing as a team, a few of our guys were new and inexperienced. But at the moment we are an experienced side as it is the same team that has been playing together for a year and a half and everyone is learning how to play every form of the game, which is the key. Their performance is getting mature match by match,” said delighted Misbah after the match.

“If you look at the team's performance throughout the year, especially the Test analysis, you will find the top six batsmen scoring around the same runs and they average nearly the same. And the bowlers did splendidly, picking regular wickets, it not only one guy who is performing. Even Hafeez, who is the fifth bowler is also picking regular wickets,” he added.

The Pakistan captain admitted that they were in a hurry when chasing the winning target of 103 in 40 overs in the last session because of bad weather conditions.

“Yeah, the situation was that the light could have dropped any time. For which we were pushing to get home quickly. We had this in mind for which we closed the match with 10 to 15 overs remaining,” said Misbah.

Pakistan were definitely in a spot of bother when Mushfiqur Rahim and Nasir Hossain were batting and Misbah said that they were looking for the new ball to turn the table on Bangladesh.

“The plan was simple. At that moment nothing was happening, the ball wasn't turning. So we just planned to go out there and finish our plans quickly and get our hands on the new ball as soon as possible and stop the flow of runs. When you get two or three maiden overs, the pressure builds on the batsmen and a good scope to pick wickets is created,” he informed.

The experienced campaigner thought that the lack of consistency was the real issue in Bangladesh's performance throughout the series.

“There were certain situations when they did really well like in this match they gave us a tough time, especially in the first inning when they built that partnership [the 180-run fifth-wicket stand between Shakib Al Hasan and Shahriar Nafees]. And when we came in to bat, they made it difficult for us to score, specially Shakib Al Hasan and the pacers. They were restricting our batsmen. So you can say that they performed in patches. During the one-day series also, their performance was never consistent. They really have to be consistent with both their batting and bowling. That's where they lack,” observed Misbah when asked to sum up the Tigers performance over the series.

He also said that Bangladesh should have discipline in their performance and be patient if they want to get success at the highest level of the game.

“The main thing in Test cricket is the discipline, doesn't matter if you are bowling or batting. Sometimes they play shots which you know sometimes is not acceptable. They need to know how to occupy the crease and build partnerships, which they did in the last Test. In the first innings there were two partnerships and they scored 338, in the second innings there was one partnership and they were able to put us in trouble. So that's how you build a good partnership and compete in Test cricket,” he suggested.
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