Adelaide: Pakistan put up a clinical bowling display to beat Bangladesh by five wickets in their high-stake final group match and qualify for the semifinals of the T20 World Cup here on Sunday.
Standing on the verge of an early exit from the tournament after defeats against India and Zimbabwe in the Super 12 stage, Pakistan were handed a lifeline when fancied South Africa were knocked out by Netherlands, who registered a memorable 13-run win at the same venue earlier in the day.
That result not only sealed the semifinal passage for India with a match in hand, but gave Pakistan and Bangladesh a lifeline, in a winner-takes-it-all contest.
Opting to bat, Bangladesh got off to a rollicking start with Najmul Hossain Shanto slamming a counter-attacking 48-ball 54 but lacked failed the final flourish as Pakistan rode on pacer Shaheen Afridi’s career-best T20I figures of 4 for 22 to restrict their opponents to a paltry 127 for eight.
It was not a straightforward chase but Pakistan lost wickets at regular intervals to find themselves in a tricky position before Shan Masood held his nerves to seal the win with 11 balls to spare.
Mohammad Haris played a crucial 18-ball 31 in the middle after Pakistan lost both their openers — Babar Azam (25) and Mohammad Rizwan (32) in quick succession.
With seven needed, Haris did a harakiri and was dismissed by Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan.
Pakistan lost one more wicket in the form of Iftikhar Ahmed with just two required for win. Chasing, Pakistan employed a watchful strategy with skipper Babar Azam desperate to get some runs under his belt.
His opening partner Mohammad Rizwan got a reprieve on zero when Bangladesh wicketkeeper Nurul Hasan dropped a dolly in the first over.
The duo held on despite an edgy start and put on 57 runs for the opening wicket.
With no run-rate pressure, it seemed Pakistan were coasting but the contest turned into a nervy one after Nasum Ahmed (1/14) managed to get the breakthrough.
The left-arm spinner, who was brilliant in the Powerplay returned in the 11th over to end Azam’s anxious stay.
Ebadot Hossain then dismissed Rizwan in the next over.
Pakistan needed 59 off 48 balls as Haris calmed the proceedings smashing Ebadot for a boundary and six.
Earlier, on a difficult pitch, left-handed opener Najmul Hossain Shanto slammed a counter-attacking 48-ball 54 but Bangladesh faltered in the final overs with Pakistani spinners triggering the collapse before Afridi seizing control in a superb haul of 4/22.
Shanto was at his fluent best and pierced the field at ease en route to his second fifty of the tournament.
After the early dismissal of Liton Das, Shanto and Soumya Sarkar (20) shared 72 runs off 47 balls for the second wicket to lay a good platform for Bangladesh.
Bangladesh were easily looking at a 150-plus score when Shadab Khan (2/30) triggered the collapse.
The leg-spinner took two wickets in two balls, including a dubious DRS dismissal of Bangladesh skipper Shakib for a golden duck.
Shanto, however, seemed undeterred as he went about his business and completed a 46-ball fifty, his second in the tournament.
But off-spinner Iftikhar outsmarted Shanto, cleaning him up with a slower one.
Iftikhar returned with fine figures of 3-0-15-1 as Babar’s ploy to attack with the off-spinner against left-handed Bangladesh batters did the trick.
Afridi then got into the act, dismissing Mosaddek Hossain, Nurul Hasan and Taskin Ahmed in six balls, across two overs.
Speedster Haris Rauf looked at his best and returned with 1/21.