Imran Nazir Blasts Pakistan Through To Super 8s
Pakistan 178-2 (Imran Nazir 72) beat
Bangladesh 175-6 (Shakib Al Hasan 84) by 8 wickets
ICC World Twenty20 Group D, Pallekele
Report by John Pennington
Pakistan qualified for the Super Eights of the ICC World Twenty20 2012 by making it six wins out of six against Bangladesh in Group D.
A blistering innings of 72 in 36 balls from Imran Nazir overshadowed an effort of 84 from Shakib Al Hasan as Bangladesh's hopes of progression ended despite a score of 175 for six, Pakistan overhauling the score with eight balls to spare.
Shakib batted delightfully in making 84 in 54 balls, including 11 fours and two sixes, favouring the midwicket region but Pakistan, for their part, fielded appallingly and at times bowled to Bangladesh’s strengths, only occasionally finding their yorkers.
A plethora of short balls were eagerly despatched by Tamim Iqbal (24 in 12 balls), Mohammad Ashraful (14 in 13) and even Mushfiqur Rahim (25 in 26).
Iqbal struck five powerful boundaries to give the innings a kick start and Ashraful made a timely contribution as the pair put on 34 for the first wicket.
When Iqbal was run out by Mohammad Hafeez after a misunderstanding and then a slip-up, Bangladesh had made it to 61 for two and that score at the end of the Power Play was the second best of the tournament to date.
Shakib then came into his own, ensuring Tamim’s dismissal did not slow the scoring rate with a series of attractive shots.
Mushfiqur swept Hafeez into the stands for six and should have been caught as he spooned Yasir Arafat to square leg only for Sohail Tanvir to inexplicably grass the simplest of chances.
A series of further mishaps in the field allowed Bangladesh extra runs and there were eight wides. Arafat (3-25) was easily the pick of the bowlers, recovering from the disappointment to remove Shakib, Mushfiqur, finally caught in the deep by Imran Nazir, and Nasir Hossain, who struck 16 in 13 balls.
Tanvir had earlier bowled Ashraful with a sweet delivery that kissed the top of off stump and the other man to take a wicket was Shahid Afridi, who had Mahmudullah caught by Umar Akmal.
Shakib’s onslaught meant both of the targets for Pakistan were challenging. They were set 176 to win and 140 to go through at Bangladesh’s expense.
Hafeez got off the mark by edging Mashrafe Mortaza just passed the outstretched hand of Ashraful at slip and straightaway, it was clear that the runs would not be coming easily.
After Hafeez added another boundary, it seemed that the catching bug had been caught by Bangladesh, as Imran Nazir was spilled at mid-on by Ashraful off Shafiul Islam.
The two batsmen played in contrasting styles. Hafeez unfurled classic drives through and over the off side while Nazir was more brutal, hammering the ball straight and through midwicket.
The half-century partnership came up in just 29 balls and even Nazir’s top-edges were sailing over the boundary rope, such was the power with which he was targeting the ball.
At 64 without loss after the Power Play, the situation looked incredibly bleak for Bangladesh, despite the introduction of Abdur Razzak slowing things a little.
Shakib helped his fellow left-arm spinner put the brakes on but by this point, Pakistan only needed to work the singles and bat sensibly in order to go through.
Sensible or not, Nazir raced to his half-century in just 25 balls – the quickest in the tournament so far although in Abul Hasan, Bangladesh had one quick bowler at least who was able to mix up his deliveries and as a result, delayed Nazir’s charge, albeit only briefly.
A rank long hop from Shakib was bludgeoned over midwicket for a monster six as he passed 50 and the opening partnership burst past 100 in 64 deliveries.
As Bangladesh continued to bowl badly, Nazir and Hafeez simply helped themselves to boundaries at will. The partnership was finally broken with the score on 124 when Nazir was caught by substitute Farhad Reza off Abul for an outstanding 72 in 36 balls.
His opening partner fell three balls later when he edged Abul to Rahim behind the stumps having made 45 in 47 balls.
Nasir Jamshed and Kamran Akmal were fresh at the crease with Pakistan needing 50 to win from the final 36 balls and although Bangladesh sensed a way back in to the match, qualification for the favourites was virtually assured.
Jamshed continued from where he had left off against New Zealand and was quickly into his stride by hitting the six over square leg which confirmed Pakistan’s presence in the Super Eights.
Jamshed and Kamran Akmal took 19 runs from the 16th over, bowled by Abul as Pakistan raced towards a victory – their batsmen good enough to outweigh a miserable performance in the field.
Akmal confirmed the win with a driven four, finishing unbeaten on 22 in 15 balls, Jamshed making 29 in 14 with two fours and two sixes.
Pakistan join Australia, India and South Africa in what looks to be the tougher of the two Super Over pools.
© Cricket World 2012
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