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    World Cup T20: Afridi stars as Pakistan beat Bangladesh by 55 runs

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    He himself recovered from fever but sent temperatures soaring at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday.

    Shahid Afridi stormed into the middle and then blew away the attack with strokes of thunder. What an onslaught!

    The explosive Afridi’s 19-ball 49 shut Bangladesh out of the contest in this ICC World Twenty20 duel. His blitzkrieg also served as a warning to the rest of the sides.

    An all-action man even in his 20th year in international cricket, Afridi was in the thick of things with his probing leg-spin too as Pakistan, defending an imposing 201, romped home by 55 runs on a good batting wicket.

    Man of the Match, Afridi was. He also seemed a man on a mission after promoting himself to No. 4, pounding the attack with some heavyweight punches.

    Bangladesh was never really in the hunt. Left-armer Mohammad Amir, smooth, sharp and incisive, cleaned up a hesitant Soumya Sarkar’s off-stump.

    Bangladesh continued its downhill journey. Shakib Al Hasan may have serious issues to sort out in his bowling — his balance at release point appears awry — but was the lone batsman to offer resistance with an unbeaten 50.

    Earlier, the Pakistan batsmen dominated. If under a mental siege in the Asia Cup, they broke the barriers of self-doubts and pressure here after the spin of the coin was won by Afridi.

    The Pakistan batsmen were quick off the blocks and did not take the foot off the accelerator. The Bangladesh bowling, never allowed to settle into any sort of rhythm, was ruthlessly dismissed.

    Good start

    Sharjeel Khan sizzled briefly before falling to a quicker one from left-arm spinner Arafat Sunny. Then comeback man Ahmed Shehzad (52) and the reliable Mohammad Hafeez (64) picked the gaps and scattered the field during their influential 95-run second-wicket association in 11.2 overs.

    Both batsmen employed their feet, were fluent on either side of the wicket. When they lofted, the duo did so with authority.

    Then, Afridi cut loose. Two strokes stood out for their sheer audacity and power. Paceman Al-Amin Hossain was hoisted over long-on with flourish for the maximum. And seamer Taskin Ahmed was flat-batted beyond extra-cover for a sensational six.

    The only moment of brilliance for Bangladesh was a terrific catch by Sarkar — he palmed the ball up, crossed the ropes and then jumped back in — at deep mid-wicket to dismiss Hafeez off Sunny.

    There was a moment of concern when Umar Akmal, during his brief stay, was spoken to by the umpires after a verbal altercation with the Bangladesh fielders.

    Despite all the security while entering the stadium, the goodly crowd enjoyed its time.

    In a show of unison, the spectators had their camera flashes on, creating a sea of radiant light in the stands. This, indeed, was a game where Afridi shone bright.

    Scoreboard

    Pakistan: Sharjeel Khan b Sunny 18 (10b, 1x4, 2x6), Ahmed Shehzad c Mahmudullah b Rahman 52 (39b, 8x4), Mohammad Hafeez c Sarkar b Sunny 64 (42b, 7x4, 2x6), Shahid Afridi c Mahmudullah b Taskin 49 (19b, 4x4, 4x6), Umar Akmal c Shakib b Taskin 0 (2b), Shoaib Malik (not out) 15 (9b, 2x4), Imad Wasim (not out) 0 (0b); Extras (lb-1, w-1, nb-1): 3; Total (for five wkts. in 20 overs): 201.

    Fall of wickets: 1-26 (Sharjeel), 2-121 (Shehzad), 3-163 (Hafeez), 4-175 (Umar Akmal), 5-198 (Afridi).

    Bangladesh bowling: Taskin Ahmed 4-0-32-2, Al-Amin Hossain 3-0-43-0, Arafat Sunny 4-0-34-2, Shakib Al Hasan 4-0-39-0, Mashrafe Mortaza 3-0-41-0, Sabbir Rahman 2-0-11-1.

    Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal c Wasim b Afridi 24 (20b, 2x6), Soumya Sarkar b Amir 0 (2b), Sabbir Rahman b Afridi 25 (19b, 5x4), Shakib Al Hasan (not out) 50 (40b, 5x4, 1x6), Mahmudullah c Sharjeel b Wasim 4 (5b), Mushfiqur Rahim c Ahmed b Amir 18 (21b, 3x4), Mohammad Mithun c Amir b Irfan 2 (4b), Mashrafe Mortaza (not out) 15 (9b, 2x4, 1x6); Extras (lb-4, w-4): 8; Total (for six wkts. in 20 overs): 146.

    Fall of wickets: 1-1 (Sarkar), 2-44 (Rahman), 3-58 (Iqbal), 4-71 (Mahmudullah), 5-110 (Rahim), 6-117 (Mithun).

    Pakistan bowling: Mohd. Amir 4-0-27-2, Mohd. Irfan 4-0-30-1, Wahab Riaz 4-0-31-0, Shahid Afridi 4-0-27-2, Shoaib Malik 2-0-14-0, Imad Wasim 2-0-13-1.

    Toss: Pakistan.

    Player of the match: Afridi.

    Pakistan won by 55 runs.

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