Mirpur (Bangladesh), March 4 :
Pakistan clinched a cliff-hanger by chasing down Bangladesh’s total of 326/3 in their highest successful One-Day International (ODI) run-chase to qualify for the final of the Asia Cup at the Shere Bangla National Stadium here Tuesday.
After his match-winning knock of an unbeaten 34 against India Sunday, Shahid Afridi (59) once again produced a special innings to take Pakistan home with three wickets and a ball to spare.
Coming in to bat with Pakistan in trouble at 225/5 in the 42nd over pursuing a monumental target, Afridi scored the joint second-fastest ODI half-century in just 18 balls. This was also his third 50 off 18 balls.
In the last over Pakistan needed three runs. The first two balls were dot deliveries with Umar Akmal (14 not out) taking a run off the third. Next ball, set-batsman Fawad Alam (74) was run-out in a mix up to make it two from two. But Akmal made sure he took the defending champions into the final by hitting a boundary on the penultimate delivery.
Earlier, Bangladesh began brilliantly with a 150-run opening wicket partnership between wicketkeeper-batsman Anamul Haque (100), who scored his second century, and Imrul Kayes (59).
Monimul Haque (51) and captain Mushfiqur Rahim (51 not out) also struck important half-centuries while all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan hit an incredible 44 off 16 balls, which included six boundaries and two sixes, to take the home side to their highest ever ODI score.
Pakistan bowling was not impressive, giving away 21 extras including 15 wides. Only off spinner Mohammad Hafeez contained the hosts with brilliant figures of 10-0-27-0.
In reply, Pakistan took off well with a 97-run first-wicket partnership. Opener Ahmed Shehzad (103) scored the second century of the match, and Hazeez also struck with the bat, scoring 52. But from 97 for no loss, the visitors went to 105/3 in a couple of overs.
Then Shehzad and Alam, who scored his highest ODI score, recorded an important 105-run fourth-wicket partnership before Shehzad perished. Abdur Rehman (8) also did not last long when man of the match Afridi came into the picture with the score at 225/5 in 41.2 overs.
What he did next was history as he completely took the match away from Bangladesh making 59 off 25 balls which included two boundaries and seven spectacular sixes. There were a couple hiccups thereon but Akmal guided home his side.
Mominul was the pick of the Bangladeshi bowlers taking 2/37 in nine overs.
Last edition’s runners-up Bangladesh lie fifth and last with no points, losing all three matches, while Pakistan qualified in second position for the final with 13 points.