Imran Nazir blasted 72 off 36 balls to lead Pakistan into the World Twenty20 Super Eights after beating Bangladesh by eight wickets in the final Group D match in Pallekele, Sri Lanka, on Tuesday.
Nazir slammed nine fours and three sixes in an opening stand of 124 off 81 balls with skipper Mohammad Hafeez (45) as Pakistan cruised past Bangaldesh’s total of 175 for six with eight balls to spare.
Pakistan replied with 178 for two, Nasir Jamshed and Kamran Akmal seeing them home with an unbroken stand of 52 off 28 balls.
Jamshed finished unbeaten on 29, including two sixes, and Akmal on 22.
Bangladesh had to restrict Pakistan to a total below 140 to reach the last eight, but in a high-scoring game played on a perfect batting track their bowling was not good enough to contain Pakistan.
Dropping Hafeez on 9 in the second over proved a costly lapse for Bangladesh, as he went on to share a match-winning stand with Nazir.
Bangladesh made a flying start as openers Tamim Iqbal and Mohammad Ashraful raced to 34 off 21 balls, before Sohail Tanvir bowled Ashraful.
Shakib al-Hasan, promoted to No. 3, kept the momentum going with some stunning shots that brought him 11 fours and two sixes in his 84 off 54 balls, the highest score by a Bangladesh batsman in a Twenty20 international.
Pakistan spilled at least three chances, which allowed Bangladesh to post a challenging total.
“Bangladesh played very well, they put us a little bit under pressure and our bowlers couldn’t bowl well, [but] they were a little bit short,” Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez told reporters. “But after that we came out with a very positive attitude. Imran [Nazir] was exceptional tonight. It’s great to see as a team and as a captain the way the boys really approached this target. We didn’t discuss anything about 140 or anything, we just went to win the game.”
Pakistan’s win meant that all four unbeaten teams in the group stages — Australia, India, Pakistan and South Africa — are in Group 2 of the Super Eights competing for a semi-final berth in Colombo.
Group 1 is made up of sides who all lost a game — England, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and the West Indies.
The Super Eights competition starts today.
“The next three teams in our group are some of the best in the world, we are really looking forward to that,” Hafeez said.
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim said his side had paid the price for not performing well in their opening loss to New Zealand.
“We didn’t play our best game in the first match and it put us under huge pressure,” skipper Rahim said.
“We haven’t played on this kind of wicket in a long time, that’s one new experience for us. After the first game, we really came back well in today’s game. Although we didn’t get the result, I am happy with the progress we made after the first match,” he said.