The Telegraph
Monday , March 31 , 2014
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Am happy to do a first: Shehzad

- Pak beat Bangla by 50 runs, keep last-four hopes alive
Ahmed Shehzad celebrates after his century, on Sunday

Dhaka: Ahmed Shehzad is regarded as the most talented of the young crop of Pakistani batsmen. Even Zaheer Abbas feels he has it in him to join the big league. On Sunday, the 22-year-old showed glimpses of his abilities with his maiden T20 International century.

Shehzad’s unbeaten 111 against Bangladesh came off 62 balls and included 10 boundaries and fives sixes. It was the second century of the tournament after England’s Alex Hales.

One will have to wait till Tuesday to know the second semi-finalist from group II. While Pakistan’s 50-run victory knocked out Australia, Mohammed Hafeez’s men will be engaged in a virtual quarter-final against West Indies.

Once Shahid Afridi tonked 20 off nine deliveries to set Bangladesh a 191-run target, even their most die-hard supporter didn’t give them a chance. Predictably, they just failed to arrest the slide.

They bowled and fielded poorly, while their batsmen merely content with filling up the numbers. Only Shakib-al Hasan did put up a decent performance with both bat and ball, but it wasn’t enough.

Shehzad’s return to form will be good news for Pakistan as they approach the knock-out stages. The opener said he stuck to the team’s plans and that paid dividends.

The following are excerpts

Mohammed Hafeez: It is a great effort from the boys. Everyone knew how important these games are. A special knock from Ahmed Shehzad.

He was a little under pressure before the game, but the management gave him the support ... He has all the shots and today he showed it in his game.

Mushfiqur Rahim: (Abdur) Razzak and Shakib-al Hasan bowled really well, but other bowlers didn’t back them up. We gave away around 50 runs in two overs and that didn’t help our cause.

If we had managed to contain Pakistan within 160-170, it would have a different ball game altogether.

To make matters worse, we didn’t capitalise on the first six overs when we batted. We didn’t get the momentum…

When you are chasing a big target, you need someone in the top-four to bat all the way, but that didn’t happen today. Overall, it was an improved performance… There are a few positives from this tournament.

Ahmed Shehzad: I’m very happy and proud of my performance. Before coming here, my target was to get a century in the pool stage and happy that I’ve achieved it…

Happy that I’m the first Pakistan player to score a century in all the formats. Happy to do a first…

I’ve been listening to so many things about my form… But you have to show character… I backed myself and stuck to my gameplan.

The aim was to pick the bowlers and hit them… My earlier highest in this format was 98 in Harare and liked that innings because I was in my comeback trail…

I want to dedicate this innings to all those who have criticised and supported me… This is my gift to all my countrymen…