Known for its resilience, Pakistan scripted a much-needed turnaround by thumping Bangladesh by seven wickets and recording its third victory to stay in the World Cup semifinal race at the Eden Gardens here on Tuesday.
Electing to bat on a dry pitch, Bangladesh did not last for 50 overs for the fourth time in its last six innings as it stuttered to 204 with Shaheen Afridi brilliantly capturing three crucial wickets. Openers Fakhar Zaman and Shafique Abdullah’s authoritative half-centuries enabled the former champion to achieve the modest target and end the four-match losing streak.
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The left-right combination of Fakhar and Shafique got used to the track before toying with the dispirited Bangladeshi bowlers and erecting a run-a-ball 128-run stand.
In the one-sided sub-continental duel, Fakhar (81), who made an emphatic return after over three weeks by clobbering seven spectacular sixes, mostly on the onside and one stunningly over third-man, and Shafique (68), who hammered Mustafizur Rahman for three fours in an over, entertained nearly 28000 spectators with some T20 stuff.
Mehidy Hasan Miraz took all three Pakistan wickets but couldn’t prevent the inevitable.
Bangladesh’s Powerplay woes continued as it lost three wickets for 23.
Leading Pakistan’s pace pack, Afridi displayed his good control and extracted seam movement to provide early breakthroughs giving away too little. He trapped opener Tanzid Hasan lbw in the first over to become the fastest Pakistani bowler to log 100 wickets and had Najmul Shanto caught by a diving Usama Mir at short midwicket in the third.
After being hit for three fours, Haris Rauf was relieved to have Mushfiqur Rahim caught behind.
A focused Litton (45) and a confident Mahmudullah (56) revived the innings. The duo’s sensible shot selection and rotation of strike forged The Tigers’ best partnership, 79 off 89 deliveries.
Mahmudullah dominated the offside and pulled Usama for a massive six. Litton, who impressed by consecutively driving Rauf on either side of the stumps to the boundary, executed his cuts and drives well.
Iftikhar got rid of Litton to break the partnership resulting in Bangladesh’s decelerated run rate.
Afridi returned to bowl a beauty from round the wicket and remove Mahmudullah.
Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan began watchfully before switching gears. A rising delivery ended his 76-ball 43 and gave Rauf a moment of joy.
Mohammad Wasim, who was getting the ball to reverse, cleaned up the Bangladeshi tail.
Bangladesh’s sixth back-to-back defeat let down its emotional fans, who had to endure the pain of their team’s formal exit.
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