KARACHI: Defending champions Pakistan survived a spirited Bangladesh fight-back to win their opening World Twenty20 match by 21 runs.
Chasing a formidable 172 on a difficult pitch, Bangladesh were reduced to 31 for two in the sixth over before a 91-run third-wicket partnership between Mohammad Ashraful (65) and captain Shakibul Hasan (47) raised hopes of an upset.
Mohammad Sami, who was making his Twenty20 international debut, grabbed two wickets in the 16th over, including that of Hasan, and killed off any hopes the minnows had of a shock win. Ashraful was caught behind of an inside edge two overs later and the tail failed to provide a much-needed onslaught that would have left Pakistan’s titledefence in tatters on only the second day of the tournament.
Earlier, Salman Butt proved his worth with the bat in the shortest format of international cricket as he shared a 142-run opening partnership with Kamran Akmal.
The left-hander, whose selection for the tournament has been widely criticised in view of his past performance, hit eight fours and three sixes in his 73 and was the last man out in the penultimate over of the innings. Akmal’s 73 was also his highest score in Twenty20 internationals and laid the foundations of the win on a pitch that remained difficult for batting, especially against spinners.
Pakistan take on Australia today and a win will guarantee them a place in the Super-Eights.