Fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi returned career-best figures of 4-22 to lead Pakistan into the Twenty20 World Cup semi-finals with a five-wicket win over Bangladesh in a do-or-die clash on Sunday.
Chasing a modest 128 for victory in Adelaide, Pakistan achieved their target with 11 balls to spare and join arch-rivals India in the final four from Group 2.
The clash turned into a virtual quarter-final after the Netherlands stunned South Africa in the opening match of the day, a result which put India into the semis.
India play Zimbabwe in the last Super 12 match of the tournament in Melbourne later on Sunday to decide who plays whom in the last four. New Zealand and England qualified from Group 1.
Man-of-the-match Shaheen, who missed the recent Asia Cup with injury, said: “I have improved. Not easy to come back from injury […] but I’m trying my best.
“As a team, we are very happy. We’ve played great. Bowl in the right areas and fast was the plan.”
Asked if he was looking forward to the semis, he joked: “Now we are looking forward to the final.”
Pakistan bounced back from opening defeat against India and a shock loss to Zimbabwe to outplay South Africa last week.
They had a spring in their step after the shock South Africa loss earlier on Sunday and Shaheen struck early as the left-arm quick sent back Liton Das for 10 following Bangladesh’s decision to bat first at the Adelaide Oval.
Najmul Hossain Shanto capitalised on a reprieve when the usually safe Shadab Khan dropped the left-handed batsman on 11 at short extra. The opener went on to top-score with 54 for Bangladesh.
Shadab struck twice on successive balls including Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan out lbw, but he reviewed the decision and it appeared from replays that the ball grazed the bat before it hit the pad.
But the third umpire upheld the on-field call as Shakib looked stunned, waved his hands and didn’t want to walk off.
A Shadab hat-trick was averted by Afif Hossain.
Shakib’s wicket seemed to affect the Bangladesh batsmen, who suddenly looked out of sorts and managed a below-par total despite an unbeaten 24 from Afif.
Bangladesh lost regular wickets and Shaheen struck twice in one over and then picked a fourth for the first time in his T20 career.
Mohammad Rizwan, who made 32 after he survived a dropped catch on nought, and Babar Azam, who scored 25, launched the chase in an opening stand of 57 but Pakistan seemed to lose their way in the middle.
Rizwan fell to fast bowler Ebadot Hossain in the next over as Bangladesh looked to fight back and had Mohammad Nawaz run out on four.
But Mohammad Haris made 31 and put on partnerships including a 29-run stand with Shan Masood, unbeaten on 24, to guide Pakistan into the semi-finals.