LAHORE: Bangladesh fought off an almighty comeback from Pakistan to seal a thrilling one-wicket win and level the two-match ODI series at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. The visitors won by one wicket and with one ball to spare, and for a few fleeting moments, it appeared they had thrown away what looked an impregnable position in the game just half an hour before its frantic finish.
Fargana Hoque anchored the chase of 211 smoothly, a similar target to the one Bangladesh had fallen short of in the first ODI. With 25 to win off the final eight overs and six wickets in hand, the victory appeared a formality, before Hoque’s departure triggered an almighty collapse, and the panic in the Bangladesh camp almost cost them the series.
In the next 6.3 overs, five wickets were lost and just 18 runs were added to the score, with No. 9 Jahanara Alam and No. 11 Nahida Akhtar at the crease.
Bangladesh appeared to have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at this point, but the pair had just about enough time to inch their way to 211, getting there on the penultimate delivery to draw the series level.
Pakistan opener Nahida Khan scored 63 to set up the innings, but beneath her, there were far too many starts that went unconverted. Bangladesh all-rounder Rumana Ahmed made regular inroads into Pakistan, stalling their momentum just when a partnership had built up. The innings was marked by sloppiness, too; four run-outs in the lower order saw to it that the hosts wouldn’t bat out their 50 overs, bowled ten balls short for 210.
Those unplayed deliveries proved costly in the end, but it appeared a minor detail when Bangladesh’s top order was clicking. Diana Baig and Sana Mir struck early, but that was followed by a commanding 82-run partnership between Hoque and opener Murshida Khatun, and when Bismah Mahroof dismissed Khatun, another 57-run partnership took Bangladesh within touching distance. It might have then appeared a stroll to the finish line, but Pakistan made sure the visitors would be forced to crawl towards it, gasping for air. Just before they ran out of breath – and overs and wickets – they had managed to stay alive.