|ICC Men’s World Cup, Kolkata|
|Bangladesh 204 (45.1 overs): Mahmudullah 56 (70), Das 45 (64); Shaheen 3-23, Wasim 3-31|
|Pakistan 205-3 (32.3 overs): Fakhar 81 (74), Shafique 68 (69); Hasan Miraz 3-60|
|Pakistan won by seven wickets|
Fakhar Zaman scored a rapid 81 as Pakistan raced to a seven-wicket win over Bangladesh in the World Cup.
Set 205 to win, Fakhar and Abdullah Shafique put on 128 to help Pakistan surge to victory in 32.3 overs.
Shaheen Afridi earlier took his 100th one-day international wicket as he spearheaded a fantastic bowling effort to bowl Bangladesh out for 204.
Bangladesh’s sixth straight loss means they are the first side officially out of semi-final contention.
Tigers captain Shakib Al Hasan opted to bat first at the toss, but his side were soon in trouble as Shaheen trapped Tanzid Hasan lbw fifth ball to claim his landmark wicket.
Shaheen struck again in his next over; and when Haris Rauf removed Mushfiqur Rahim, Bangladesh were 23-3.
Mahmudullah and Liton Das led the recovery, but the former was bowled by a beauty from Shaheen soon after reaching his half-century and wickets continued to fall at regular intervals before Mohammad Wasim took three in seven reverse-swinging balls to wrap up the innings.
After a frenetic start, Pakistan soon settled into their chase and Fakhar – recalled for his first game since Pakistan’s opening match against the Netherlands – showed his intent with a monstrous six over the leg side off Taskin Ahmed.
He proceeded to hit a further six maximums before he holed out off Mehidy Hasan Miraz 19 runs shy of a century.
By that stage, the result was a formality and Muhammad Rizwan hit the winning runs with 105 balls to spare.
Seamers show what might have been for Pakistan
Coming into this World Cup, Pakistan were seen as genuine contenders for the trophy.
While this dominant win keeps them in the hunt for a semi-final place, they have so far fallen well short of expectations.
A much-vaunted pace attack has failed to fire, particularly up front.
At Eden Gardens on Tuesday, they finally came to the party with Shaheen the star of the show.
The left-armer’s potency with the new ball has been part of what has made Pakistan such a threat in white-ball cricket in recent times.
However, despite taking 13 wickets prior to the Bangladesh game, he has lacked the zip that makes him so special since returning from a knee injury.
This time he looked somewhere close to his best as he claimed two wickets in his first two overs and Rauf also struck in the powerplay.
There was less threat through the middle overs, but a little Shaheen magic did for Mahmudullah and Rauf bounced out the other key batter, Shakib.
Once the ball started to reverse swing, Pakistan’s seamers were in their element and Bangladesh were forced into survival mode.
They didn’t last long. Mohammad Wasim clinically mopped up the tail to leave Pakistan with a very modest target.
Two more wins might still be enough to send the 1992 champions into the semis but, if not, Pakistan will be left ruing the time it took for their fast bowling unit to find form.
‘I know I can hit sixes’ – what they said
Player of the match, Pakistan batter Fakhar Zaman: “Today I got a chance and thankfully it paid off.
“It doesn’t matter how the wicket will play, I know I can hit sixes. My role in the team is to make it easy for my partner, so I was just looking to see off the first four overs.
“[Net run-rate] was in our mind and after reaching 100 runs we wanted to finish the game before 30 overs.”
Pakistan captain Babar Azam: “I congratulate the boys for the way they played in all three departments.
“We are trying to win our next two matches and let’s see where we stand. We will take a lot of confidence into those matches.”
Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan: “We did not get enough runs. I thought the wicket was really good.
“We lost early wickets again and from there on there were some partnerships, but not big partnerships where we could go hard in the last 10 overs. It was disappointing with the bat, but we should have bowled better.”