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The straighter one dismissed three Pakistan batsmen, including Fawad Alam © AFP

2nd ODI, Mirpur: Nasim, Wahab lift Pakistan to 239

Saad Nasim’s maiden ODI half-century and a late blitz from Wahab Riaz lifted Pakistan to a fighting total after Bangladesh had reduced them to 77 for 5. Nasim, who had made a duck on his debut on Friday, scored an unbeaten 96-ball 77, and rebuilt Pakistan’s innings with a 77-run sixth-wicket partnership with Haris Sohail before finishing the innings explosively in Wahab’s company, ESPN reports.

Wahab dominated their stand of 85 off 66 balls, and finished not out on 51 off 40. He turned the momentum as soon as he walked in to bat in the 39th over. Pakistan scored 85 runs in their last 11 overs, and 49 in their last five.

The ball didn’t come on to the bat nearly as well as it had on Friday, and Pakistan’s openers also struggled against up-and-down bounce – more down than up – while putting on 36 in 7.1 overs. Azhar Ali, coming off a half-century in the first ODI, played and missed on a couple of occasions when the ball stopped on the pitch and died on him, but also played some sparkling shots through the off side including two fours in one Taskin Ahmed over. Taskin came back at him with a sharp bouncer that pinged Azhar on his helmet as he took his eyes off the ball in a hurried attempt to fend it away.

Sarfraz Ahmed, walking a long way across his stumps, looked edgy right through his 11-ball stay, and played away from his body to nicked Rubel Hossain’s first ball of the match to first slip. The spinners took over from that point.

The odd ball gripped and turned sharply, and Shakib Al Hasan dismissed Azhar with one of these, causing him to connect poorly with a reverse-sweep and fall prey to a brilliant bit of anticipation from Mushfiqur Rahim behind the stumps. Another viciously spinning Shakib delivery, tossed up enticingly, beat Mohammad Rizwan’s front-foot prod, caused him to overbalance, and led to prolonged deliberation from the third umpire over a stumping appeal. He gave it not out, but the batsmen were always aware of the threat of turn, and this made the straighter one doubly dangerous.

All of Bangladesh’s spinners made good use of the straighter ball. Arafat Sunny, introduced as early as the seventh over, struck in his second over, skidding one through from his left-arm around angle to bowl Mohammad Hafeez as looked to force him off the back foot through the off side. In a mirror image of that dismissal, Nasir Hossain went around the wicket and slid one through Fawad Alam’s attempted cut. Then Rizwan, with the near-stumping fresh in his mind, was lbw pressing forward and across to Shakib’s slider. Replays showed the ball striking his front pad marginally outside the line of off stump, but Rizwan had failed to ask for a review.

The moment seemed to encapsulate a dazed and confused Pakistan, but Nasim and Haris showed they still had some smart, sensible batting left in their tank. Neither of them went out of their way to counterattack, even though Pakistan’s run rate when they came together was well below four an over. They took 75 balls over the first 34 runs of their partnership, and Nasim was the slowpoke of the pair. At the start of the 34th over, he was on 17 off 51 balls and Haris on 33 off 49.

Mashrafe Mortaza brought himself back into the attack, and provided Nasim with width twice in a row. Both balls went for four. In his next over Nasim drove him crisply to the cover boundary. In between he jumped down the pitch and launched Sunny cleanly over long-off. Pakistan took 13 off Shakib in the 38th over, with Haris clouting him for a six over long-on, and the revival was firmly underway.

Wahab ensured it would continue apace, after a clever slower ball from Mashrafe ended Haris’ stay in the next over. His recent innings have displayed both brawn and craft, and his first two boundaries showed both facets: a glide past short third man and a wallop through the covers, both in the same Rubel over.

Strike rotation was Pakistan’s main focus from there till the 45th over, before Nasim signalled the shift of gears by crashing Taskin through extra cover. Wahab picked up four boundaries in the next three overs, including a slog-swept four and a whistling straight six off successive Shakib deliveries. He hit another six in the final over, keeping a steady base and a still head to clout Taskin over the leg side and bring up his fifty. Wahab had failed to cross the mark in his first 37 ODI innings. Now he had made two in six.

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