Pakistan bludgeoned Bangladesh out of the World Twenty20 and successfully reached the Super Eights round with a ruthless batting display on Tuesday.
Imran Nazir’s brilliant 72 and skipper Mohammad Hafeez’s 45 helped take Pakistan past Bangladesh’s challenging 175-6 in Pallekele, after already overhauling the target needed to go through on net run-rate.
Shakib Al Hasan had smashed a record 84 for Bangladesh, who needed to win by 36 runs to go through, raising the prospect of a shock upset against the former champions.
But those hopes were quickly dashed by opener Nazir’s career-best knock, including nine boundaries and three sixes in 36 balls, which made up the bulk of Pakistan’s 124 for the opening wicket with Hafeez.
Even when both fell in one Abul Hasan over, Nasir Jamshed (29 not out) and Kamran Akmal (22 not out) ensured the win was achieved with eight balls to spare as Pakistan wrapped it up with 178-2, joining New Zealand in the next round.
“It’s a great team effort, the boys have shown the right attitude so far in this tournament,” said Hafeez.
“Our bowlers tried well but there is a little bit of a concern about the fast bowlers, still I am very happy as captain because the team are responding to me,” said Hafeez, whose pace trio conceded 93 in nine overs.
Rahim was happy with Bangladesh’s efforts in a high-pressure situation.
“The pressure was on us but Hasan played very well. We can take some positives out of this and go home and work on a few things,” said Rahim.
After Bangladesh won the toss and opted to bat, left-hander Hasan hit his second Twenty20 fifty and added 68 runs for the third wicket with skipper Mushfiqur Rahim (25).
Hasan, whose previous T20 best of 57 came against Ireland at Belfast earlier this year, smashed 11 boundaries and two sixes during his 54-ball knock, improving Nazimuddin’s previous best of 81, against Pakistan at Nairobi in 2007.
Opener Tamim Iqbal hit five boundaries in his 12-ball 24 before he was unfortunately run out. It was Hasan who punished every Pakistani bowler, with Umar Gul going for 43 runs in his three overs.
Pakistan were sloppy in the field, with Sohail Tanveer dropping a sitter off Rahim and Shahid Afridi failing to hold on to a sharp chance off Hasan -- both in one over by Yasir Arafat, who was best bowler with 3-25.
The Super Eights, which decide the semi-finalists, start in Pallekele on Thursday, with Sri Lanka taking on New Zealand and England playing the West Indies in Group One.
Pakistan, India, South Africa and Australia are in a highly competitive Group Two, highlighted by the fact that all four teams are unbeaten so far.