Dhaka - Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal smashed unbeaten half-centuries to set up a seven-wicket win for Pakistan against UAE in a match of the Asia Cup in Dhaka on Monday.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) had a sniff after Amjad Javed made early inroads in the Pakistan top order. For a majority of the chase, Pakistan were chasing the game and the required run-rate had even crept up to 10 an over. It was at that point that Shoaib Malik (63*) and Umar Akmal (50*) came together and defied the Associate Nation with a cracking 114-run partnership. They were slow to start things off but took off after the 16th over.

In the end, they won by a canter after some lusty hits by both the Pakistani half-centurions to register their first win of this Asia Cup 2016 campaign.

Going by the way UAE struggled early on, it looked as though it was going to be another cheap collapse, with the visiting team knocking off the runs quickly. Little did one expect the Associate Nation to come up with a plan to defy, frustrate and even attack the Pakistan bowlers.

The match started off with Mohammed Amir once again looking menacing. The batsmen didn’t get an inch and left-armer finished with excellent figures yet again.

After only the third over of the game, UAE were at 12 for 3 and there were murmurs about UAE getting shot out even before they would reach 100 but it was star batsman Shaiman Anwar who led the team’s fightback. Anwar chose the perfect time to go after the bowling. With Amir out, the other bowlers didn’t exude the threat that came with the tainted pacer.

Anwar took on the debutant left-arm spinner, Mohammad Nawaz and Shahid Afridi. He hit a big six off Nawaz while Afridi, bowling for the first time in the tournament was also on the receiving end of some aggressive batting. Anwar thumped three consecutive boundaries on both sides of the wicket off the Pakistan captain.

It was a timely knock and made his lower order batsmen believe that they could also play proper cricketing shots and get runs off it. There were sweep shots and long-hops and the the ball comfortably cleared the ropes.

Afridi had enough of spin, brought Mohammad Irfan back into the attack and Pakistan got a crucial breakthrough. With the pacers having an over each at the death, a 120+ score looked unlikely the Javed fireworks left Afridi scratching his head and the bowlers had a decent target to defend.

This win was more of a Pakistani escape than an outright win. All the top order batsmen  are struggling for form and will find it difficult in the latter stages of the tournament.

Malik’s experience and class came to the forefront. He was dropped at a crucial stage but that wouldn’t have gone on to make that big a difference in the grander scheme of things.

Scoreboard

UAE:

Rohan Mustafa c Afridi b Sami 1

M Kaleem b M Aamir 1

M Shahzad c Sarfraz b M Irfan 5

Shaiman Anwar c Sarfraz b M Irfan 46

Usman Mushtaq c Nawaz b Afridi 9

M Usman b M Aamir 21

Amjad Javed not out 27

M Naveed not out 10

EXTRAS: (lb 2, w 7) 9

TOTAL: (6 wickets; 20 overs; 86 mins) 129

FOW: 1-5, 2-5, 3-12, 4-41, 5-72, 6-118

BOWLING: M Aamir 4-1-6-2, M Sami 4-0-28-1, M Irfan 4-0-30-2, Shahid Afridi 4-0-24-1, M Nawaz (3) 3-0-26-0, Shoaib Malik 1-0-13-0.

PAKISTAN:

M Hafeez c Fahad b Amjad Javed 11

Sharjeel lbw b Amjad Javed 4

Khurram Manzoor c Patil b Amjad 0

Umar Akmal not out 50

Shoaib Malik not out 63

EXTRAS: (w 3) 3

TOTAL: (3 wickets; 18.4 overs; 87 mins) 131

FOW: 1-11, 2-11, 3-17

BOWLING: M Naveed 3.4-0-28-0, Amjad Javed 4-0-36-3, M Shahzad 4-0-19-0, Ahmed Raza 3-0-20-0, Rohan Mustafa 3-0-20-0, Fahad Tariq 1-0-8-0.

TOSS: United Arab Emirates

UMPIRES: Enamul Haque, RSA Palliyaguruge

TV UMPIRE: AK Chaudhary (India)

MATCH REFEREE: JJ Crowe (New Zealand)

RESERVE UMPIRE: Sharfuddoula