Umar Akmal and Shoaib Malik put up a valiant unbeaten 114-run partnership for the fourth wicket as Pakistan recovered from 17 for 3 and went past United Arab Emirates’ 129 with 8 balls to spare and earned their first victory in this edition of the Asia Cup on Monday at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium at Mirpur. This 7-wicket triumph will keep Pakistan in hunt for a place in the final on March 6.
On the scoreboard, this might look as an easy victory for Pakistan but on the field they were under immense pressure when the medium pace of UAE skipper Amjad Javed accounted for three top order batsmen within the first four overs of the innings.
Sharjeel Khan was the first man to be dismissed. He was the victim of a rough LBW decision. But there were no issues with the dismissals of Khurram Manzoor, Mohammad Hafeez. Both played poor shots to get out. From there Akma land Malik joined hands and steadied the ship. They played out the new ball.
The pair decided to change gear when spinners were introduced. From the point of the match, they took they game from UAE. Late in the innings Malik gave an easy chance, but the deep square leg fielder, Usman Mushtaq failed to grab it. There were no stopping for these two after this. Both Malik and Akmal reached their half-centuries and took Pakistan to victory quite comfortably at the end.
Earlier in the game, after back to back batting failures, UAE finally posted a decent 129 for 6 against Pakistan in the sixth match of the ongoing Asia Cup T20. Considering the pace attack Pakistan has, this effort by the inexperienced UAE batting line-up, has to be credited.
UAE captain Javed won the toss and opted to bat. They made one change with Sialkot-born Usman Mushtaq coming into the XI in place of Saqlain Haider. Pakistan on the other hand made a change as well with fast bowler Wahab Riaz making way for spinning all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz to make his debut.
Pakistan bowlers struck early and removed three top order batsmen within the first three overs of the match. At 12 for 3, UAE was once again heading towards a disappointing outing. But Shaiman Anwar had other ideas. He counter-attacked and scored a valuable 46 which put them back on track.
Down the order Muhammad Usman and skipper Javed chipped in with some useful contributions which helped them to cross the 120-run mark.
For Pakistan Mohammad Amir was once against impressive. He gave away just 6 runs in his four overs and took two wickets. Mohammad Irfan had two strikes as well.
Pakistan’s next game in the tournament will be against hosts Bangladesh on March 2. UAE on the other hand will take on favourites India on the next day.
UAE 129 for 6 in 20 overs (Shaiman Anwar 46, Amjad Javed 27, Muhammad Usman 21; Mohammad Amir 2 for 6, Mohammad Irfan 2 for 30) lost to Pakistan: 131 for 3 in 18.4 overs (Umar Akmal 50*, Shoaib Malik 63*; Amjad Javed 3 for 36) by 7 wickets.
Man of the match: Shoaib Malik