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Pakistan romp into Super 8s

Barry Wilkinson in Sri Lanka

Pakistan romp into Super 8s

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KANDY – Pakistan predictably snatched the final spot in the Super Eights of the ICC World Twenty20, but they had to fight for it against Bangladesh at the Pallekele Stadium last night.
The Pakistanis went into the match with a better net run rate and the only way Bangladesh could grab the last spot to oust them was by winning handsomely enough to overhaul that net run rate.
It was no surprise that on winning the toss Bangladesh batted first and they launched a competitive 175 for six in their 20 overs.
Pakistan only needed 140 to qualify, but for good measure, and a pinch of confidence, they raced to 178 for two to win by eight wickets. It was their highest ever successful run chase in Twenty20s.
It was Bangladesh’s tenth consecutive defeat.
But you couldn’t blame them for giving a grand effort, led by the world’s leading ODI all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who rode his luck to a whirlwind 84 from 54 balls, containing 11 fours and two sixes.
The left-hander added 68 runs for the third wicket with his captain, the pint-sized Mushfiqur Rahim who made 25.
Shakib played some scintillating drives and uppercuts and looked set for a century, only to be denied when he was spectacularly caught by Umar Akmal to be one of Yasir Arafat’s three wickets.
But Bangladesh were blown away by some sensational batting from their opponents.
Captain Mohammed Hafeez and Imran Nazir put on 124 runs in 13 overs to virtually seal the deal for Pakistan before a crowd of 25 000, evenly split in loyalty.
Nazir attacked just about anything and rushed to 72 from 36 balls with nine fours and three sixes.
Hafeez scored 45 and was a spectator at one stage, but it didn’t matter. The runs were flowing and even though they both departed, Nazir Jamshed and Kamran Akmal put the icing on the cake with 29 and 22 not out, respectively, to see Pakistan home with eight balls to spare.
Pakistan will join Australia, India and South Africa in their Super Eights draw in Colombo, while in Kandy, the four teams jostling for the top two positions will be West Indies, England, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
All tickets for the Super Eights matches here have been sold out, while in Colombo only one match still has vacant seats.