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Shaheen's Afridi's career-best powers Pakistan to semis

Set up by Shaheen Shah Afridi's career-best T20I haul of 4-22, Pakistan entered the T20 World Cup 2022 semifinals with a five-wicket victory against Bangladesh.

With South Africa faltering against Netherlands earlier on Sunday, the second game of the Adelaide Oval double-header turned into a virtual quarterfinal where Bangladesh had no hesitation in batting first. However, theirs was an innings of two halves where a solid start from half-centurion Najmul Shanto came undone by fine spells from Afridi and Shadab Khan in the second half. Chasing 128, Pakistan were off to a slow start and veered off track in the middle overs with a cluster of wickets. But Mohammad Haris' 18-ball cameo of 31 and Shan Masood's unbeaten 24 eventually took them to the finish line with 11 balls to spare.

Shanto leads early recovery

His knock didn't have any audacious shots, but Shanto's 48-ball 54 was crucial in leading Bangladesh's recovery once they had lost the hard-hitting Litton Das cheaply in the third over. He got going with a four off Afridi and kept at least the odd boundary an over going for Bangladesh for the better part of his stay in the middle. Shanto held one end up, allowing the more extravagant Litton and Soumya Sarkar (20 off 17) to go for their shots. Dropped on 11 in the powerplay, he punished Pakistan by adding 43 more to his tally and did not even let the spinners, especially Shadab, settle in early. Bangladesh didn't exactly have a blistering start, but they had a solid platform of 70/1 at the halfway mark with Shanto leading the way.

A controversy in the middle of a collapse

Would it have been a collapse technically if Shakib wasn't at the receiving end of a controversial LBW call? Maybe not. But the decision was sent upstairs and upheld, and Bangladesh lost 3 crucial wickets for 18 in the space of 15 balls, a phase that completely shifted the momentum of their innings. Shadab (2-30) was the man responsible for causing most of that damage, taking two in two. Sarkar was the first to go, trying a cheeky reverse off the fourth ball after drinks. Then Shakib came more than 3 metres charging down the track for a slow, low full-toss, had his bat probablyhitting the ground at the same time as the spike on the UltraEdge even though its shadow on replays would suggest otherwise. Shakib unwillingly trudged off for a golden duck, and a couple of overs later as Shanto reached his fifty, Iftikhar knocked back his off-stump. Bangladesh had slipped to 91/4.

Afridi's career-best restricts Bangladesh

The surge Bangladesh were hoping for in the slog-overs, never came. Instead, they lost 3 for 3 in the space of 12 balls, all to Afridi. Mosaddek Hossain never looked comfortable for the 11 balls he stayed in the middle, and under dot-ball pressure he perished to a yorker that came in and disturbed the furniture. In the same over, Nurul Hasan tried to break free and carve Afridi over covers, but had the sweeper cover running in to intercept it. In the pacer's next over, Taskin Ahmed chipped one at chest height to Babar Azam at mid-off. If the 3 for 29 in the five overs after drinks was mediocre progress, the 3 for 28 in the final five ensured Bangladesh had a less-than-par score on the board for a side so eager to make use of the conditions and bat first.

Rizwan, Babar provide steady start

Rizwan punished Taskin with a six right after their keeper put down a dolly off the third ball of the chase, and followed it up with back-to-back boundaries in Shakib's opening over later in the powerplay that overall yielded only 35. Of the 27 balls each the Pakistan openers had played until the ninth over of their chase, Rizwan and Babar's innings were contrasting curves. Even in a slow start, Rizwan still tried to play around with the field to an extent but the Pakistan skipper was struggling to get a move on. That is, of course, before he skipped down the track to break the shackles with a four over the bowler's head. The 57 off 63 balls they put on was officially the slowest scoring rate from the openers of a Full Member nation in all of T20Is. But crucially, Pakistan had wickets in hand.

Bangladesh strike but Haris and Masood pull through

Babar tried a release shot once again after drinks, but the top-edge off his attempted slog-sweep was nabbed at backward point as Nasum Ahmed finally got the reward for some tight bowling. Six balls later, Rizwan slapped a slower one straight to point. Mohammad Nawaz was at the receiving end of a sharp direct hit from Litton Das a short while later, bringing Pakistan to 92/3 almost at the end of the 15th over. Bangladesh were still in the hunt, and the nervousness of both parties showed in their fielding and running fumbles. But Haris and Masood came to Pakistan's rescue with crucial cameos. Both had a bit of luck smiling on them. Shortly after being hit on the helmet by Mustafizur Rahman, Haris was caught in the deep off Ebadot Hosain only for the fielder to have stepped on the ropes. When Taskin overstepped in the 16th over, Haris smoked the free-hit well into deep midwicket stands - a shot that released all pressure on Pakistan. On the other hand, Masood had top-edged Taskin off just his second delivery but it fell in no-man's land and the batter never looked back. He picked 11 off the first four balls of Shakib's final over, including two boundaries that helped Pakistan nudge comfortably ahead.

What next for them?

Pakistan will have an eye on India's game in Melbourne next to determine where they finish in their group and where they head to for their semifinal. For Bangladesh, it's time to head home.

Brief scores: Bangladesh 127/8 in 20 overs (Najmul Hossain Shanto 54, Afif Hossain 24*; Shaheen Afridi 4-22, Shadab Khan 2-30) lost to Pakistan 128/5 in 18.1 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 32, Mohammad Haris 31; Nasum Ahmed 1-14) by 5 wickets

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