Shahid Afridi shows the way as Pakistan comfortably beat Bangladesh

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Football News

Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi's stellar all-round performance helped his side begin their ICC World Twenty20 campaign with a 55-run victory over Bangladesh in Kolkata.

The 36-year-old thumped 49 off just 19 balls after Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez had laid the platform with fluent half-centuries as Pakistan reached an imposing 201 for five, having opted to bat first.

Afridi, who received criticism for comments he made earlier this week about the adulation he receives in India, then took two wickets, including key batsman Tamim Iqbal, as the Tigers fell some way short on 146 for six, despite the best efforts of Shakib-al-Hasan's defiant unbeaten 50.

Afridi's remarks followed a turbulent build-up to the tournament for Pakistan, whose participation was in doubt until last week, when they were given clearance by their own government to travel to India following safety concerns.

They had also been beaten by Bangladesh in the Asia Cup last month, while the Tigers had eased through to the Super 10s stage after beating Oman and Holland in the first round.

But any hopes they had of pulling off a Group 2 upset floundered after fantastic efforts from Shehzad, Hafeez and Afridi.

Shehzad and Hafeez came together after Sharjeel Khan fell for a quickfire 18, bowled by Arafat Sunny.

It was a rare success for Bangladesh as Shehzad and Hafeez piled on the runs, with the former bringing up his half-century off 35 balls, with eight fours.

Shehzad, who was a late replacement in the squad for misfiring batsman Khurram Manzoor, then holed out to deep midwicket for 52 off Sabbir Rahman to end a stand of 95 from just 68 balls.

Afridi, who has hinted he may retire from international cricket at the end of this competition, brought himself up the order and the mercurial all-rounder went four-four-six in the same over Hafeez reached 50 off 36 deliveries.

Hafeez was superbly caught on the boundary by Soumya Sarkar, while Umar Akmal departed for a duck, but there was no slowing down the audacious Afridi as he sought to push Pakistan past the 200-barrier.

Attempting to bring up his half-century with a fifth maximum, Afridi perished in the final over, becoming the third Pakistan batsman to be caught on the boundary.

Slow left-armer Sunny and paceman Taskin Ahmed, both of whom are under investigation over suspect bowling actions, finished with two wickets apiece but Bangladesh were left with a formidable chase.

Their hopes receded even further when Mohammad Amir cleaned up Sarker in the first over of the reply.

Sabbir Rahman made a breezy 25 before succumbing to an Afridi googly and the veteran then removed Iqbal, who could not follow up his century against Oman last time out after being caught in the deep for 24.

Shakib rebuilt alongside Mushfiqur Rahim, but the rate was steadily increasing despite the pair going at over a run a ball in their stand of 39, which was ended when Mushfiqur was fooled by an Amir slower ball.

Shakib refused to throw in the towel and brought up his 50 off 40 balls in the final over, but it was too little too late.

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