Pakistan come through Bangladesh resistance

GROS ISLET, Saint Lucia: Pakistan got the defence of their World Twenty20 title off to a sound start with a 21-run win over Bangladesh at the Beausejour Stadium here on Saturday.

Victory was built around a huge opening stand of 142 between Kamran Akmal and man-of-the-match Salman Butt, who both made 73.

It was the third highest opening stand in all Twenty20 internationals and just shy of the tournament record posted by the West Indies duo of Chris Gayle and Devon Smith against South Africa at Johannesburg in 2007.

The win more than atoned for Pakistan''s warm-up loss to Zimbabwe and set them up nicely for their Group A match on Sunday against Australia, who also lost to the Africans in the preliminaries.

This match looked all over when Bangladesh were 31 for two in the sixth over of their reply.

But Mohammad Ashraful (65) and captain Shakib Al Hasan (47) kept Bangladesh in the game with a third-wicket stand of 91 in 10 overs.

Ashraful, whose fifty came off 38 balls, struck Pakistan captain and leg-spinner Shahid Afridi for six high over long-off and Shakib struck Hafeez for two big sixes over long-on. With five overs left, Bangladesh needed 53 runs for an improbable win.

But, two balls later, Shakib holed out off Mohammad Sami to long-off.

Sami then turned 122 for three into 123 for four when he had Mahmudullah caught at point.

Ashraful though was undaunted driving Afridi for six and Bangladesh''s target was down to 38 off 18 balls.

However, his innings ended when he was caught behind by diving wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal off left-arm quick Mohammad Aamer, having faced 49 balls with three sixes and six fours.

But a target of 32 off 12 balls proved just beyond Bangladesh, who finished on 151 for seven. Sami took three wickets for 29 runs and Aamer two for 16.

Earlier Kamran Akmal was dropped on 13 by Ashraful, running back at mid-on, off Mashrafe Mortaza, whose four overs cost 39 runs.

Fellow paceman Abdur Razzak''s four overs were even more expensive, going for 41 runs and Bangladesh''s spinners were unable to repair the early damage.

Butt''s stylish fifty took just 29 balls, with two sixes and six fours, while Akmal, who looked to be scoring the quicker of the pair, reached the landmark in 43 balls, with six boundaries.

Shakib did though take two wickets for 27 runs with his slow left-armers.

Akmal was the initial aggressor, pulling Shafiul Islam for four and then somehow striking a low leg-stump full toss from the same bowler through the covers for another boundary.

But Butt was soon into his stride, going down on one knee to hoist Abdur Razzak over midwicket for six

Akmal exited by slapping a Shakib full toss to cover while Butt was clean bowled by Shafiul Islam as he tried to reverse sweep a straight ball.

Bangladesh opener Imrul Kayes''s exited for nought in the first over as an attempted drive off the lively Aaamer saw him sky to Misbah-ul-Haq at short third man.

And spinner Mohammad Hafeez then struck third ball to have Tamim Iaqbal caught and bowled off a soft return catch.

Bangladesh finish the group phase against Australia in Barbados on May 5.