Adelaide, Nov 6 (PTI): Pakistan defied all odds to make a dramatic entry into the T20 World Cup semifinals with a clinical five-wicket win over Bangladesh after being handed a fresh lease of life by the Netherlands, who stunned South Africa here on Sunday.
Standing on the verge of an early exit from the tournament following defeats against India and Zimbabwe in the Super 12 stage, Pakistan were handed a lifeline after the Netherlands shocked South Africa by 13 runs at the same venue earlier in the day.
That unexpected result also secured the semifinal passage for India with a match in hand.
Opting to bat, Bangladesh got off to a rollicking start with Najmul Hossain Shanto slamming a counter-attacking 48-ball 54 but lacked the final flourish as Pakistan rode on pacer Shaheen Afridi’s career-best T20I figures of 4 for 22 to restrict their opponents to a paltry 127 for eight.
It was not a straightforward chase as Pakistan lost wickets at regular intervals to find themselves in a tricky position before Shan Masood held his nerves to seal the win with 11 balls to spare.
Mohammad Haris played a crucial 18-ball 31 in the middle after Pakistan lost both their openers — Babar Azam (25) and Mohammad Rizwan (32) in quick succession.
With seven needed, Haris did a harakiri and was dismissed by Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan.
Pakistan lost one more wicket in the form of Iftikhar Ahmed with just two required for win.
Pakistan employed a watchful strategy while chasing with skipper Babar Azam desperate to get some runs under his belt.
Rizwan got a reprieve on zero when Bangladesh wicketkeeper Nurul Hasan dropped a dolly in the first over.
The duo held on despite an edgy start and put on 57 runs for the opening wicket.
With no run-rate pressure, it seemed Pakistan were coasting but the contest turned into a nervy one after Nasum Ahmed (1/14) managed to get the breakthrough.
The left-arm spinner, who was brilliant in the Powerplay, returned in the 11th over to end Azam’s anxious stay.
Ebadot Hossain then dismissed Rizwan in the next over.
Pakistan needed 59 off 48 balls as Haris calmed the proceedings smashing Ebadot for a boundary and six.
Earlier, on a difficult pitch, Shanto smashed an entertaining half-century before Bangladesh faltered in the death overs.
Shanto was at his fluent best and pierced the field at ease en route to his second fifty of the tournament.
After the early dismissal of Litton Das, Shanto and Soumya Sarkar (20) shared 72 runs off 47 balls for the second wicket to lay a good platform for Bangladesh.
Bangladesh were easily looking at a 150-plus score when Shadab Khan (2/30) triggered the collapse.
The leg-spinner took two wickets in two balls, including a dubious DRS dismissal of Bangladesh skipper Shakib for a golden duck.
Shanto, however, seemed undeterred as he went about his business and completed a 46-ball fifty.
But off-spinner Iftikhar outsmarted Shanto, cleaning him up with a slower one.
Iftikhar returned with fine figures of 3-0-15-1 as Babar’s ploy to attack with the off-spinner against left-handed Bangladesh batters did the trick.
Afridi then got into the act, dismissing Mosaddek Hossain, Nurul Hasan and Taskin Ahmed in six balls across two overs.
Speedster Haris Rauf looked at his best and returned with figures of 1/21.