In the first Super 4 match of the Asia Cup, Pakistan's pace trio, led by Haris Rauf, delivered a dominant performance, leading their team to a convincing seven-wicket victory over Bangladesh on Wednesday. Rauf, with figures of 4/19, and Naseem Shah, who claimed 3/34, effectively dismantled Bangladesh's batting lineup, dashing their hopes of posting a challenging total. Despite a century partnership between Mushfiqur Rahim (64) and captain Shakib Al Hasan (53), Bangladesh's innings folded at 193 runs in 38.4 overs, with Pakistan chasing the target down in 39.3. Bangladesh had won the toss and opted to bat.
Rauf was named the player of the match, thanks to his crucial breakthroughs throughout the Bangladesh innings. He claimed the wickets of Mohammad Naim (20) and Towhid Hridoy (2) at the beginning of Bangladesh's batting and later, in his second spell, further disrupted Bangladesh's progress by dismissing Mushfiqur Rahim. The wicketkeeper-batter had played a brilliant innings but was caught behind in the 38th over. Rauf then removed Taskin Ahmed in a similar fashion, who failed to score any runs.
Following the game, Rauf insisted that the weather conditions were difficult in Lahore but that he was habitual to playing in hot climate, thanks to his stints with Lahore Qalandars, the city's Pakistan Super League franchise.
“It was hot out there, but I've played a lot of cricket here. I play PSL for Lahore, the crowd always expects us to perform here. Before any game, we do plan as a bowling unit. We talk about bowling to different plans based on the game phase. Hard length was tough to play here, and the plan was to keep bowling stump to stump. Didn't need to go to the yorker today,” said Rauf.
The Pakistan pacer also made a rather interesting remark on his expectations from the rest of the tournament, insisting that he wants to be the ‘player of the series’. Pakistan have matches remaining against India and Sri Lanka in the Super 4 stage before the final on September 17.
“I keep working hard and I have high goals for myself, I want to be the Player of the Series in this Asia Cup, let's see how the tournament proceeds,” said Rauf.
The ODI tournament will now shift its focus to Sri Lanka, where Pakistan is scheduled to face arch-rivals India for the second time after their initial group-stage encounter was abandoned due to rain. Meanwhile, Bangladesh will take on Sri Lanka in a match scheduled for Saturday.