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Four of the best batters in the world look to be in fine form ahead of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup after they hit half centuries during Pakistan’s narrow victory over Bangladesh in Christchurch on Thursday.
While Pakistan had already booked their spot in the final of the tri-series against New Zealand and Bangladesh had little to play for, both sides were keen to show their wares just days out from the start of the T20 World Cup in Australia.
Pakistan stars fire in run chase
It was no surprise to see experienced openers Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam on song in the victory, with the pair putting on their eighth partnership of 100 or more in T20I cricket to expertly lay the platform for the successful run chase.
Babar (55 off 40 balls) was the aggressor early on, while Rizwan (69 off 56) kept his composure throughout and only fell to Soumya Sarkar in the penultimate over after putting his team in a controlling position.
It was then left to Mohammad Nawaz (45 off 20) to finish the job for Pakistan, with the all-rounder hitting Mohammad Saifuddin to the boundary on the second last ball of the match to seal the seven-wicket triumph.
.@iMRizwanPak is declared player of the match for his fifty 👏#PAKvBAN | #NZTriSeries pic.twitter.com/ppj12EfQuc
Same old story for Bangladesh
Litton Das celebrated his 28th birthday in style with a stylish 69, while skipper Shakib Al Hasan (68) also hit an excellent half-century as Bangladesh posted a respectable total of 173/6 after winning the toss and electing to bat first at Hagley Oval.
The main issue was no other batter scored greater than 12, with Das and Shakib contributing 137 runs between them from 84 balls and the rest of their line-up only making 31 runs between them from the remaining six overs.
Shakib knew he left a few runs out there when he was dismissed in the 19th over and took some of the blame for leaving his side a little short.
But Bangladesh have been too reliant on the likes of Das and Shakib for years and need some new names to chip in when the T20 World Cup gets underway next week.
Good signs with the ball for Pakistan
While Nawaz was the star of the show with the bat, the left-armer was wayward with ball in hand as he conceded 37 runs from three costly overs as Das and Shakib took a liking to his slow spinners.
It was instead left to Naseem Shah and Mohammad Wasim (2/33) to shine with the ball, with the former in particular impressive as he picked up two wickets and gave up just 27 runs from his four overs.
Naseem produced 12 dot balls during his four-over spell and looks to have recovered well from his illness and primed to perform at his best during the T20 World Cup.
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