Bangladesh quelled the demons within to surpass a modest total set by Pakistan and ensured its first T20 final entry, at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium here on Wednesday. The host returned from the edge of the precipice playing out a dramatic 19th over, where fortune swung like a pendulum, to overhaul the target of 130 set by Pakistan with five wickets and as many balls to spare. Rendering the rest of the league phase inconsequential, Bangladesh will now play India in the final scheduled on Sunday.
Veteran Mohammad Sami, who was given the task of bowling the penultimate over, bowled two no balls making it possible for the host batsmen – captain Mashrafe Mortaza and Mahmudullah – to score the bulk of the runs and secure the win, which appeared difficult at one point of time. The drama reached its peak in the fourth delivery of Sami when Khurram Manzoor caught a lofted drive from Mortaza in the long-off, to find the umpire negating it signaling a no-ball.
Bangladesh gladly accepted the reprieve and Sami made it even for easier bowling the second no-ball in the last delivery, which Mahmudullah dispatched to the fence and then took a single off the resultant free-hit ensuring a collection of 15 runs from the over. Mahmudullah struck a boundary in the first ball of Anwar Ali, who bowled the final over, to finish one the most remarkable victories accomplished by the fledgling cricketing nation.
Bangladesh started well as opener Soumya Sarkar played a fine knock of 48 (48b, 5x4, 1x6) to make the win look possible in an easier way. Sarkar looked in command handling the Pakistani attack with confidence and played the lead in two good partnerships — of 33 runs with Sabbir Rahman (second wicket) and of 37 runs with Mushfiqur Rahim (third wicket) — to put the host on course.
But, the elegant left-hander, who was later adjudged the man of the match, was undone by a brilliant yorker from Mohammad Amir in the 14th over seeing the Bangladesh batting retracting into a shell. Amir next scalped Shakib Al Hasan after Shoaib Malik had trapped Rahim leg-before to deepen the crisis for Bangladesh. The situation was finally salvaged by the unbeaten pair of Murtaza and Mahmudullah.
Earlier, Sarfraz Ahmed scored an unbeaten 58 to help Pakistan reach 129 for seven against Bangladesh. Ahmed teamed up with Shoaib Malik (41) for a 70-run partnership for the fifth wicket to rescue Pakistan, which tottered at 28 for four at one stage.
Shahid Afridi’s decision to bat on winning the toss seemed to go wrong initially as the Bangladesh bowlers put the visitor under pressure with a disciplined bowling. Pakistan openers Khurram Manzoor and Sharjeel Khan continued their struggle as the host pacers Taksin Ahmed and Al-Amin Hossain bowled accurately on a surface that has been cleaned of the grass cover.
Hossain picked up Manzoor with a fine delivery that moved off the seam inducing the batsman to edge it behind to wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim. Introducing left-arm spinner Arafat Sunny early in the fourth over, Bangladesh got the second success in the fourth over when Sharjeel Khan failed to read the spin and saw the middle stump shattered. Pakistan collapsed to 18 for three in the fifth over when Bangladesh captain Masrafe Mortazza saw his LBW appeal against Mohammad Hafeez successfully answered by Sri Lankan umpire Ruchira Palliyaguruge.
Pakistan reached a paltry 20 for three after the mandatory power-play of six overs and slipped into further trouble when Taksin Ahmed picked up Umar Akmal in the ninth over to leave the visitor struggling at 28 for four. This was when Shoaib Malik joined Sarfaraz Ahmed in the middle to resurrect Pakistan’s innings. The two broke the shackles and timed some brilliant shots to start the run flow. Malik hit a six and five boundaries to play the lead in the 70 run partnership before reaching 41 (30 balls) and rescue Pakistan from one of its poorest starts against Bangladesh.
From 34 for four in the 10th over Pakistan reached 79 for four in the 15th over as the two found the rope regularly. A lapse in concentration saw Malik departing in the 17th over but by that time he had seen Pakistan to a healthy score of 98. Khan, who hit two sixes and five boundaries in his 42-ball 58 - batted for the rest of the innings to see Pakistan reach 129. This was the lowest total by Pakistan against Bgangladesh in T20 (the previous being 135) but still it was decent enough considering the start the visitor had made.
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