Dambulla: More than two men and the proverbial dog were on hand to see an explosive record innings from Shahid Afridi in an Asia Cup outing against Bangladesh on Monday, which could be classified, in boxing terms, as a no-contest.
Afridi has sent a warning to Australia's bowlers for their Test series in England where he scored 124 of 60 balls against Bangladesh, the fastest three-figure score in Asia Cup history, eclipsing the 68-ball century by Suresh Raina against Hong Kong in Lahore two years ago.
With both sides heading for England, they were treating this game as a practice outing for their visit: Pakistan playing a Test series, starting with the opening match at Lord's next month and Bangladesh, who interrupted their tour of England to take part in this 10th Asia Cup edition at Rangiri Stadium in the cultural centre of the emerald isle.
Afridi, however, went on the rampage, scoring freely all around the wicket to collect his second three-figure score of the tournament, having put together a polished century against Sri Lanka in the opening game of the even a week ago. He went on the charge from the moment he arrived at the crease.
Pakistan were 155 for three when he arrived at the departure of Imran Farhat and by the time he left with the scored on 347 at the fall of the sixth wicket, he had massacred the Bangladesh bowling. His driving and pulling were a feature of his innings and he was on to anything wayward of line or length.
The carnage wrought on the Bangladesh bowlers for the fifth wicket with the fancied new favourite Umar Akmal, yielded 137 runs in only 16 overs as the plundering continued without a thought for the bowlers. They have never found the right length this series and the impression is that they are still bowling to the length in England as it has been either too long or two short and why they have been cannon fodder for the batsmen this series.
To place the Afridi innings in perspective - it needs to be remembered that he still holds the record for the fastest ODI century - the first 50 was off 35 balls with a six and five fours. The second 50 was hammered off 18 balls with 10 fours and a six. The bowlers had no answer to the buccaneer Afridi onslaught and such was his ball placement, there were more gaps than a badly holed sieve.
What was most impressive was his strike rotation with Umar Akmal, the understanding between the do was impressive.
Bangladesh though were never in the hunt to chase down the target. Their main batting plan was to prepare while they had the opportunity, to get some batting practice for the England tour. It may have suited the team but with Tamim Iqbal falling early the innings tempo was one of a slow foxtrot than a fast rock ‘n roll.
The target was always going to be too much for the Bangladesh batsmen and they will be satisfied with the 246 for five, but questions will be asked about their tactics while feel a little sympathy for Junaid Siddique who scored a fashionable 97 that was the highlight of the Bangladesh batsmen this tournament.
It is easy to understand Afridi's caution that Shoaib Akhtar is not read for a return to the Test arena. After his first over he gave the impression he had already run a short-course 10 km marathon.