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Abid Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi lead the way as Pakistan go 1-0 up

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Published in Cricket
Monday, 29 November 2021 22:05

Pakistan 286 and 203 for 2 (Abid 91, Shafique 73) beat Bangladesh 330 and 157 (Liton 59, Yasir 36, Afridi 5-32) by 8 wickets

Pakistan made light work of what might have seemed a tricky target on Monday evening, getting to 203 for the loss of just the openers. As in the first innings, Abid Ali and Abdullah Shafique did the bulk of the work, backing up that 146-run first-innings partnership with a 151-run stand. Abid was unfortunate not to get two hundreds in a Test when Taijul Islam had him trapped in front nine short of the three-figure mark, but by then Pakistan needed just 22 to win, which Babar Azam and Azhar Ali knocked off with ease.

Pakistan began the day at 109 for no wicket, but the chase didn't seem like the cakewalk that score might imply. In the first innings, Pakistan lost nine wickets for 111 runs, so Bangladesh would have been aware early wickets up top could test the middle order. Abid and Shafique, though, ensured they didn't make the mistakes of day three and refused to let Bangladesh get an early wicket, seeing off the first few overs cautiously before going after them.

It was the 39th over, with Taijul bowling to Abid, that Pakistan made their move. The batter skipped down the wicket to whip Bangladesh's best bowler through midwicket, before dispatching a long hop. He went on to make it three in three with a punch through cover, and Pakistan were on their way.

Shafique was quieter but picked up a couple of boundaries to keep the runs ticking over. Just after the 150-run partnership was brought up, he missed a sweep that was set to flick off stump, bringing down the curtain on Pakistan's opening partnership and a dream debut for the 22-year-old.

Abid continued to press on, closing in on his second hundred of the Test. The runs by now were flowing freely, and the jeopardy had been sucked out of the game. But Taijul ensured he'd have the last laugh over Abid once more, capping a superb individual fight by the Bangladesh left-arm orthodox bowler. Bangladesh were exceptionally generous in their send-off to him, much as Pakistan had been with Liton Das. Between two sides that have on occasion seen frosty relationships, this was a game played amid much warmth in the late November sunshine.

By now, the target itself was a formality. Taijul had the chance to pick up the prized wicket of Babar if he'd clung on to a sharp return catch, but that was just about the last moment of excitement Bangladesh had in this Test. The badly out-of-form Azhar used this time to try and get some runs under his belt. Before the chase was out, he was even reverse sweeping behind point for four, finishing off with a swipe behind fine leg to complete the victory.

Pakistan take a 1-0 lead into the series, and just as importantly, rise up to second in the World Test Championship table in a cycle where they have more than a decent chance of staying around the top two.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000

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