Bangladesh quelled the demons within to surpass a modest total set by Pakistan and ensured its first T20 final entry, at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium here on Wednesday.
The host returned from the edge of the precipice, playing out a dramatic 19th over in which fortunes swung like a pendulum, to overhaul the target of 130 set by Pakistan with five wickets and as many balls to spare. Rendering the rest of the league phase inconsequential, Bangladesh will now play India in the final scheduled on Sunday.
Veteran Mohammad Sami, who was given the task of bowling the penultimate over, bowled two no balls making it possible for the host batsmen – captain Mashrafe Murtaza and Mohammad Mahmudullah – to score the bulk of the runs and secure the win, which appeared difficult at one point of time. The drama reached its peak in the fourth delivery of Sami when Kurram Manzoor caught a lofted drive from Murtaza in the long-off just find the umpire negating it signaling a no-ball. Bangladesh gladly accepted the reprieve and Sami made it even for easier bowling the second no-ball in the last delivery, which Mahmudullah dispatched to the fence and then took a single off the resultant free-hit ensuring a collection of 15 runs from the over. Mahmudullah struck a boundary in the first ball of Anwar Ali, who bowled the final over, to finish one the most remarkable victories accomplished by the fledgling cricketing nation.
Bangladesh started well as opener Soumya Sarkar played a fine knock of 48 (48b, 5x4, 1x6) to make the win look possible in an easier way. Sarkar looked in command handling the Pakistani attack with confidence and played the lead in two good partnerships - of 33 runs with Sabbir Rahman (second wicket) and of 37 runs with Mushfiqur Rahim (third wicket) – to put the host on course. But the elegant left-hander, who was later adjudged the man of the match, was undone by a brilliant yorker from Mohammad Amir in the 14th over seeing the Bangladesh batting retracting into a shell. Amir next scalped Shakib Al Hasan after Shoaib Malik had trapped Rahim leg-before to deepen the crisis for Bangladesh. The situation was finally salvaged by the unbeaten pair of Murtaza and Mahmudullah.
Earlier, Sarfaraz Ahmed scored an unbeaten 58 to help Pakistan survive a collapse and reach 129 for seven. Ahmed teamed up with Shoaib Malik (41) for a 70-run partnership for the fifth wicket to rescue Pakistan, which tottered at 28 for four at one stage. Pakistan captain Sahid Afridi’s decided to bat on winning the toss and the visitor ran into a crisis as the Bangladesh bowlers put up a disciplined show. Interestingly, the Bangladesh bowlers did not give away a single extra run and kept the Pakistanis always under check except for the two outstanding innings by Ahmed and Malik.