Asia Cup: Malik, Akmal take Pakistan home against plucky UAE

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DHAKA: Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal each scored a half-century as Pakistan survived early innings jitters to beat the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by seven wickets in the Asia Cup in Dhaka on Monday.

Set a modest target after their bowlers had restricted the UAE to 129-6, Pakistan lost three wickets in 17 runs before Malik and Akmal saw them home with solid batting.

Malik made 63 off 49 balls while Akmal added 50 off 46 balls as the pair added 114 runs for the unbroken fourth wicket partnership to steer Pakistan to 131-3 with eight balls to spare.

UAE captain Amjad Javed took all three Pakistan wickets as he trapped Sharjeel Khan leg-before for four before inducing an edge from Khurram Manzoor’s bat for a duck in his first over.

Pakistan were in danger when Mohammad Hafeez gave a catch to Fahad Tariq at cover for 11 in Javed’s next over.

But Malik and Akmal staved off a further collapse with some cautious batting mixed with calculated aggression.

“We all know the first six overs have been crucial. If you survive, then you can play shots and that is what we did,” said man of the match Malik, who hit seven fours and three sixes.

“We lost early wickets but then we decided to forget about the run rate and focus on playing out the first six overs.

“We bowled well in the first six overs but then we were a bit all over the place, hopefully we will talk about it.”

Shaiman Anwar made 46 off 42 balls for the UAE after the minnows suffered a similar collapse at the start of their innings.

Pakistan’s pace bowling trio of Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Sami and Mohammad Irfan each claimed a wicket apiece in their respective first spell to leave the UAE struggling with 12-3.

Anwar and Usman Mushtaq offered some resistance before Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi removed Mushtaq for nine.

Anwar then launched a counter attack, first hitting debutant Mohammad Nawaz for a six and a four and then dispatching three successive deliveries of Afridi for fours.

Irfan dismissed Anwar to finish with 2-30. Amir finished with 2-6 after he bowled Mohammad Usman out for 21.

Skipper Javed remained unbeaten on 27 to give the UAE a fighting chance against the former World Twenty20 champions.

But Javed rued a lost opportunity.

“We wanted about 120 but we got 10 runs extra,” he said.

“We knew it would be difficult to chase, we got some early wickets, but we could not capitalise on that.”

India will face Sri Lanka on Tuesday.

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