Pakistan 205 for 3 (Fakhar 81, Shafique 68, Mehidy 3-60) beat Bangladesh 204 (Mahmudullah 56, Litton 45, Shakib 43, Afridi 3-23, Wasim 3-31) by seven wickets
Pakistan put in their most convincing performance of the World Cup to end their longest World Cup losing run, trouncing a dismal Bangladesh by seven wickets and keeping their faint hopes of semi-final qualification alive.
It felt like a classic Pakistan performance right from the outset, first-over Afridi wicket and all. He trapped Tanzid Hasan off the fifth ball to push up to 100 wickets and, taking advantage of a moving ball, got his second in his next over, getting Najmul Hossain Shanto caught at square leg. Haris Rauf made it three, hitting back after being spanked for three boundaries in his first over, drawing an edge from Mushfiqur Rahim that sent him on his way.
The turning point came when Litton fell with the softest of dismissals against a harmless delivery from Iftikhar Ahmed, a long hop which the batter wafted up to short midwicket. Litton stood transfixed in dismay for nearly half a minute at the crease, almost as if his body would not permit him to walk off.
Mustafizur was a particular favourite recipient of Shafique’s ire, as he was pummelled for three successive boundaries in the 12th over before Fakhar slapped Mehidy for another six. His fifth of the innings brought up his half-century, a slap off Taskin back over the bowler’s head bringing up the landmark, while Shafique eased to his own half-century in the same over. Shafique also played perhaps the shot of the day, a smear over cow corner off Taskin that flew all the way, and at that time, Pakistan looked like they were racing towards a ten-wicket win.
Mehidy did his bit to ensure the ignominy wasn’t quite as severe, taking three wickets (the only ones Pakistan lost) to stem the flow. Shafique fell first, sweeping across the line, while Babar, who never really got going, holed out to long-on before he got into double-figures. And while Fakhar had hit two sixes off Mehidy, he was brave enough to keep pitching it up, using a variation in pace to get him to mistime one to the midwicket boundary. Fakhar had fallen for 81 even though he had looked nailed-on for a hundred,
It wouldn’t matter too much in the end as a flurry of boundaries from Mohammad Rizwan and Iftikhar saw Pakistan coast through with more than 17 overs to spare. It ended a pall of gloom that had settled over the side over the last fortnight, and while Bangladesh are officially out, the late Pakistan charge that characterises so many ICC tournament is showing signs of rousing from its slumber.