Pakistan beat Bangladesh by eight wickets to complete the last eight lineup at cricket’s World Twenty20 championship in Sri Lanka.
Imran Nazir blasted 72 off 36 balls last night to help propel Pakistan past the 176-run victory target with eight balls to spare in Pallekele. Bangladesh had needed to win by at least 36 runs to overhaul its Group D opponent on net run rate and advance to the Super Eight phase alongside New Zealand.
Pakistan, the 2009 world champion in cricket’s newest and shortest format, topped the group with four points after two wins and next faces South Africa in two days in Colombo.
“The best thing is that whatever role we assign to players, they’re putting in maximum effort to do the job,” Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez said on the tournament’s website. “All 15 in our squad are match winners, and this team is united in trying to do the best for Pakistan.”
The Super Eight phase starts tomorrow when tournament favorite Sri Lanka plays New Zealand and defending champion England faces West Indies in a double-header in Pallekele. India and Australia meet in the following day’s second match.
The remaining eight teams at the 12-nation event are split into two groups of four, with the top two in each advancing to the semifinals. The final is scheduled Oct. 7 in Colombo.
Sri Lanka is the 4-1 favorite to win the title according to U.K. bookmaker Ladbrokes, with inaugural champion India and South Africa both rated a 9-2 chance.
Bangladesh made quick progress after winning the toss and batting first last night. Mohammad Ashraful was out for 14 and Tamim Iqbal made 24 from 12 balls before being run out to leave the score at 61-2 after six overs.
Shakib Al Hasan top scored with 84 off 54 balls and Mushfiqur Rahim made 25 to help Bangladesh post 175-6 from its 20 overs. Pakistan bowler Umar Gul allowed 43-0 in three overs.
Pakistan opener Nazir was dropped by Abul Hasan off Shafiul Islam’s when on one and made Bangladesh pay for the error, hitting nine fours and three sixes in his hour-long innings and sharing a 124-run stand with his captain, who made 45.
Nasir Jamshed, with 29 runs, and Kamran Akmal (22), then steered Pakistan to 178-2 and the victory with an unbeaten 52-run partnership.
“In one way this is my best innings, because I used my brains,” Nazir said. “All my well-wishers tell me that if I stay at the crease for 15 overs, the runs will automatically come. I’m just trying to do that.”