1st T20I: ‘Recalled’ Malik Hits With Unbeaten Fifty as Pakistan Beat Bangladesh to Take Lead
Shoaib Malik's unbeaten fifty helped Pakistan seal a five-wicket victory over Bangladesh in the first T20I in Lahore©ICC Twitter

Veteran batsman Shoaib Malik smashed an unbeaten half-century to help Pakistan snap their five-match losing streak in T20Is with an easy win over Bangladesh in the first Twenty20 international in Lahore on Friday. Recalled to the national squad after nearly a gap of one year, Malik made a handsome contribution of 58 not out (45 balls) as the hosts gunned down the modest 142-run target in 19.3 overs to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

Pakistan bowlers did a fantastic job to restrict Bangladesh to 141/5 in their 20 overs despite openers Mohammad Naim and Tamim Iqbal providing the visitors a strong start. Naim scored 41-ball 43 while Tamim hit 34-ball 39 as Pakistan’s three-man pace attack kept them in check on a flat Gadaffi stadium pitch.

The win further consolidated Pakistan’s chances of hanging on to their world number one ranking in the shortest format. If they lose any of the remaining matches — on Saturday and Monday, also in Lahore, Australia will replace them at the top.

Bangladesh could not put a reasonable fight as Pakistan won their first match after losing six of their last seven T20 matches with one washed out.

The 37-year-old Malik was in sublime form as he hit five boundaries and added 46 for the third wicket with debutant Ahsan Ali who made 32-ball 36 with four boundaries. Malik, fourth leading run-getter in Twenty20 internationals with 2321 in a record 112 matches, credited bowlers for the win.

“Congratulations to the whole Pakistan for this win and for hosting another match,” said Malik.

“It wasn’t an easy pitch and our bowlers restricted them to a gettable total. “It’s tough to be in and out of the team but I have been playing leagues and domestic cricket and that helped me stage a comeback in this match.

“I am happy to help achieve this win in a chase.”

But Pakistan’s chase was initially jolted when they lost world number one Twenty20 batsman Babar Azam on only the second ball into their innings, caught behind off an inside edge off fast bowler Shafiul Islam.

Shafiul was the best Bangladeshi bowler with 2/27. Another recalled batsman Mohammad Hafeez hit three crisp boundaries and was looking in good touch before he miscued a flick and was caught off Mustafizur Rahman for 17.

Malik and Ahsan took Pakistan to 81 and before Iftikhar Ahmed (16) added a further 36 for the fourth wicket but even the fall of Iftikhar and Imad Wasim (six) did not derail Pakistan.

Earlier, Bangladesh, who won the toss and opted to bat, were off to a good start as Iqbal and Naim put on 70 for the opening wicket.

Naim, fresh from his top score of 81 against India in November last year, cracked three boundaries and a six while Iqbal had four boundaries and a six but Pakistan pulled the scoring rate between 12-15 overs which yielded just 21 runs.

Pakistan handed Twenty20 debuts to opener Ahsan and pacer Haris Rauf.