Bangladesh are in the final of the 2016 Asia Cup T20; Pakistan are out. After a dramatic finally-we-have-a-close-one encounter at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, Bangladesh eked out a five-wicket victory over Pakistan to book a place in the final against India.
Choosing to bat first, Pakistan could not sort their issues with the willow again, with only a half-century from Sarfraz Ahmed and a nice knock from Shoaib Malik taking them to 129/7 in 20 overs.
In reply, Bangladesh, on a wicket that had all that grass now taken off, huffed and puffed and then huffed and puffed again, before just sneaking home in the first ball of the final over.
Bangladesh saw off the first over from Mohammad Amit well enough, with Tamim Iqbal, making his return to the team after going out on paternity leave, smashing a huge six off the left-arm pace bowler as well.
However, the left-hander could not stick around long enough to set the platform for his side, as Mohammad Irfan trapped the veteran in front in the next over. Sabbir Rahman and Soumya Sarkar, in need of runs, though, put Bangladesh on course for the target with a 33-run partnership, before the former fell, bowled by Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi.
Sarkar, however, finally looking in touch, went along his merry way, tonking a huge six en route to his run-a-ball 48 (5x4, 1x6) to set the game up for Bangladesh. When the left-hander fell, bowled by Amir in the 14th over, Bangladesh needed just 47 in 40 balls and it looked like they would do it at a canter.
However, those Bangladesh nerves went into overdrive when Mushfiqur Rahim fell soon after, to a questionable lbw decision, with the boundaries drying up considerably as well. Despite the struggles, though, Bangladesh were still favourites, particularly with experienced batsmen in Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah (22, 15b, 2x4, 1x6) at the crease.
The duo brought the equation down to 26 from 18 balls, before that man Amir again produced the magic, picking up Shakib. However, captain Mashrafe Mortaza (12, 7b, 2x4) pushed himself up the order, ahead of Mohammad Mithun, and struck two fours in his first two balls to swing the match Bangladesh's way again.
Needing 18 from the final 12 balls, with Amir (4-0-26-2) bowled out, Bangladesh took 15 runs off the penultimate over from Mohammad Sami, with the bowler helping Bangladesh out, bowling a couple of no-balls, one of which would have given him a wicket had he not overstepped, as the home team prevailed in this nail-biter.
The Pakistan innings was scratchy at best, with Shoaib Malik rescuing his team again, this time in the company of the excellent Sarfraz Ahmed.
Pakistan have not been able to get off to a good start in this Asia Cup, and despite just tweaking their lineup a little – Khurram Manzoor opened the innings with Mohammad Hafeez coming in at No.3 – the result was the same.
Manzoor fell to Al-Amin Hossain, edging a corker of a delivery from the Bangladesh fast bowler through to wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim.
Sharjeel Khan hit a couple of lusty blows, but he could not stick around for long, as Arafat Sunny castled the left-hander. Hafeez, so important for this Pakistan side, just could not get going again, with Mashrafe Mortaza getting an lbw decision to go his way, and just like that Pakistan were in trouble again, on 18/3 with less than five overs gone.
A partnership was necessary for Pakistan to get out of troubled waters, but Umar Akmal could not provide it this time, falling for just four, leaving Pakistan struggling on 28/4 in 8.2 overs.
It was sink or swim time now for Pakistan, and Malik (41, 30b, 5x4, 1x6) and Sarfraz (58 n.o., 5x4, 2x6) decided to swim, putting on 70 runs together for the fifth wicket. That meant Pakistan were in a position to at least make a reasonable score to give their bowlers something to defend, with Sarfraz smashing a few towards the end to take that score to 129.
It proved to be just not enough, though, as Bangladesh celebrated a famous victory.
Watch the highlights of Bangladesh vs Pakistan HERE