Mushfiqur Rahim and Mohammad Mithun's route to escape with the willow followed by a resolute performance with the ball and in the field meant Bangladesh stunned Pakistan by 37 runs to set up the Asia Cup final showdown versus India on Friday.
Rahim and Mithun's 144-run partnership saw Bangladesh gape out of the hole after being reduced to 12 for three in the fifth over. Bangladesh raised a respectable total of 239 despite Pakistan pacers hitting at the start and end of the essay in the final Super Four game, a virtual semi-final, at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
Opener Imam-ul-Haq played a valiant knock for in the chase but just didn't get support from the other end as Pakistan fell 37 runs short at the end of 50 overs.
Pakistan required a decent start considering the total wasn't above-par and the team had successfully chased down a target of 258 at the same venue earlier in the week. However, the moment Pakistan was reduced to 18 for three in the fourth over – with offie Mehidy Hasan Miraz starting in the opening over and left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahim taking over – Pakistan was always chasing down the game.
With Imam looking solid at one end, it was up to him and in-form Shoaib Malik to get Pakistan back in the game. However, Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza ended the stand with an outstanding catch at mid-wicket – diving full length to his left – in the 21st over to all but seal the fate of the match.
Mushfiqur-Mithun partnership rescues Bangladesh
Thanks to Mushfiqur and Mithun's 144-run partnership for the fourth wicket, Bangladesh cantered to a total of 239 before being bowled out in the penultimate over. Missing the services of key all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan who was ruled out with a fractured finger on his left hand wasn't the only blow early on for Bangladesh. Despite electing to bat, debutant Junaid and Afridi reduced them to 12 for three in the fifth over. While Junaid surprised Soumya Sarkar with a short-ball to start the fall, he and Shaheen produced peaches of deliveries to get through the defence of Liton Das and Mominul Haque.
Mushfiqur and Mithun then got into damage-control mode. They were aided by the fact that Hasan Ali, the first-change pacer, was a bit wayward early on. Besides, the duo ran so well between the wickets that the scoreboard never stagnated despite the early losses.
Even though Mithun perished soon after his fifty and Rahim missed his second hundred of the series by a solitary run, neither of them would have a reason to complain at the end of the day.
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