The Telegraph
Wednesday , March 5 , 2014
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I just tried to hit the ball hard, says MoM Shahid

Calcutta: Bangladesh’s best ODI score was defeated by Pakistan’s highest chase in one-dayers. That, precisely, was the story of Tuesday’s crucial Asia Cup match, in Mirpur.

While Bangladesh batted gallantly to put up 326 for three on the board, Pakistan chased the target fiercely, overhauling it with just a ball to spare.

The win earned Pakistan a place in Saturday’s final. Sri Lanka had earlier booked their berth in the all-important match.

Pakistan’s win also meant India’s ‘loss’ as it shut out all hopes, however slim, that the Virat Kohli-led side had. So India’s last match, against Afghanistan, on Wednesday, carries no real significance.

Like Sunday, Shahid Afridi once again turned out to be Pakistan’s hero. The all-rounder’s thunderous bat had stolen the match from India and on Tuesday, he broke thousands of hearts at a packed Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.

At one stage, Pakistan needed 10 runs per over. Afridi came in and smashed 59 off 25 balls. With a strike rate of 236.00, he hit seven sixes and two boundaries. Ahmed Shehzad (103) and Fawad Alam (74) were the other contributors in Pakistan’s big chase.

For Bangladesh, Anamul Haque hit a century while Imrul Kayes, Mominul Haque and Mushfiqur Rahim struck half-centuries.

The following are excerpts

Misbah-ul Haq: Afridi is really playing well and is in great form… And that’s good for us. Everybody knows the kind of player he is… When he is in full swing, he can change the course of the game very quickly… And that’s what happened today. He was marvellous.

We’ve been chasing down totals successfully… And that’s really encouraging. This win will give us great confidence for the future. While chasing a big total, we needed to plan our chase… We needed our batsmen at the correct position so that they could adjust to the situation and play accordingly… That’s why we tinkered with the batting line-up. In end, it was a perfect chase.

Mushfiqur Rahim: Yeah, it was a great effort from the openers. When Afridi plays like that, you cannot do much. He hit our best bowler (Shakib-al Hasan) for three sixes in an over and that tells you the story of the match. We were hoping that Afridi will mishit one and we will catch it. Unfortunately, I dropped one…

Shahid Afridi (MoM): First of all, I want to thank Allah. Without his help, I couldn’t have played this innings. I tried my level best to perform well… I just tried to hit the ball hard and the shots came off well.

Misbah has great belief in my abilities. He has given me the licence to play my natural game. Also, when I go to bat, the situations demand that I go for my shots. It was my type of situation… I was confident that 10 runs an over was possible, so I took a chance… And it came off well. No one is my batting coach… Moin Khan supports me… Zaheer Abbas backs me… I have reached a stage where I don’t need coaching. Hopefully, I can continue with the form in the final also.

Fawad Alam: This was a big match for me as it was my comeback game. I am playing for Pakistan again after three-and-a-half years and it’s a big moment for me. We discussed in the innings break that if we keep wickets in hand, we can easily score 10 runs per over later on.