New Delhi: Spirited Bangladesh defeated Pakistan by five wickets to qualify for the finals of 2016 Asia Cup at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur on Wednesday. The hosts will play an in-form Indian outfit on Sunday's final at the same venue.
In a humdinger of a match, which was virtually a semi-final for the hosts, Bangladesh opener Soumya Sarkar and Mahmudullah played two contrasting innings of equal importance to help the Tigers chase down Pakistan's below-par total of 129 in the 8th match of the tournament. Sarkar's 48 off 48 was ably supported by Mahmudullah's quick-fire 22 off 15.
Earlier, Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi won the toss and elected to bat first, probably considering the decaying nature of the pitch. But the decision seemed to have back-fired with Pakistan losing four wickets inside the first nine overs with score at 28/4 (8.2 overs).
For the third consecutive match Al-Amin Hossain provided Bangladesh early breakthrough, removing Khurram Manzoor with his first delivery. The 26-year-old right-arm medium-fast bowler took two more wickets.
The absence of reliable Mustafizur Rahman was hardly felt with Hossain and Taskin Ahmed leading the attack perfectly. Ahmed, who removed dangerous Umar Akmal, produced a rare maiden over and conceded only 14 runs from his four overs.
The pace duo was ably supported by Arafat Sunny, who came in for injured Mustafizur Rahman. The slow left-arm orthodox spinner was expensive but returned with two crucial wickets of Sharjeel Khan and Shoiab Malik (41).
Skipper Mashrafe Mortaza picked up the wicket of Mohammad Hafeez while Shakib Ab Hasan was wicket-less.
For Pakistan, wicket-keeper batsman Sarfraz Ahmed played a brilliant unbeaten knock of 58 runs from 42 deliveries. He and Malik stitched a 70-run partnership for the fifth wicket to drag Pakistan to a fighting total.
Eventually, Pakistan were bowled out for their lowest Twenty20 International total against Bangladesh.
In response, Bangladesh also suffered initial set-back losing returning Tamim Iqbal to Mohammad Irfan in the second over itself. However, Sarkar and Sabbir Rahman (14) stayed together for 39 deliveries for a 33-run partnership.
Sarkar then combined Mushfiqur Rahim (12) for another handy partnership of 37 runs from 31 balls.
But Pakistan's strike bowler Mohammad Amir returned for his second spell and removed Sarkar in the 14th over for run-a-ball 48. The 23-year-old opener's departure allowed Pakistan to come back in the match.
Once again, Amir returned in the 18th over to inflict woes to home team by sending back Shakib (8), who swung his bat in frustration after being bowled by a beauty from the left-arm fact bowler.
But newly arrived Mashrafe Mortaza hit back-to-back fours to end the over at 112/5.
Needing 18 runs from 12 deliveries, Afridi brought in Mohammad Sami to the attack. After three singles, Sami bowled a no-ball, but Mortaza failed to capitalise on the free-hit, settling with a single.
Sami then possibly committed the cardinal sin, bowling another no-ball which was guided for a four through the third-man by Mahmudullah.
The over produced 15 runs, leaving Bangladesh with 3 runs to win from the last over.
Mahmudullah hit the first delivery of Anwar Ali for a four over the bowler's head to register an emphatic five wicket victory and thus booking a place in the final of a major tournament.