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Tigers pip Paks to join India in final
Mushfiqur Rahim struck 99 runs and was backed by four wickets from Mustafizur Rahman as Bangladesh crushed Pakistan by 37 runs to qualify for their third Asia Cup final in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
Apart from a shaky start, which saw three wickets going for 12 runs, Bangla desh dominated Pakistan throughout the contest to record their fourth successive victory over the side.
A few other players, most notably skipper Mashrafee bin Murtaza, chipped in with vital contributions, helping the Tigers restricting Pakistan to 202-9 after Mushfiq’s heroic innings guided them to 239.
Mashrafee took two splendid catches and rotated his bowlers wisely to deny Pakistan any serious momentum in the game despite the best effort from opening batsman Imam-ul Haq, who scored 83 off 105 balls.
Mehedi Hasan and Mahmudullah gave two crucial breakthroughs just when it appeared that the match was slipping out of hands. Both the spinners owed their wickets to Liton Das, who accomplished two brilliant pieces of stumping to keep Bangladesh in the game.
Liton, however, was guilty of missing few catches, which effectively denied a five-wicket haul to Mustafiz, who, after his final over heroics against Afghanistan in the previous game, picked up 4-43 on this occasion.
Opting to bat first, Bangladesh, who were without injured Sakib al Hasan, started the game on a wrong foot once again as recalled opener Soumya Sarkar suffered a duck and was quickly followed by one-down Mominul Haque and fellow opener Liton to leave the side in tatters.
It left the onus on the shoulder of Mushfiq, who, with some support from Mohammad Mithun, rescued the side from the rubble with yet another brilliant innings.
The duo added 144 runs in their fourth wicket stand, the highest for Bangladesh against Pakistan in this pair bettering Athar Ali Khan and Akram Khan’s 110 in 1997 to put the side back in control.
Mithun departed for 60 off 84 balls with a miscued pull shot of Hasan Ali, who took the catch on his follow through to break the partnership.
Mushfiq though continued in the same vein and looked almost certain to get his seventh one-day international century before an edge off Shaheen Afridi made him first ever Bangladeshi to get dismissed on 99.
Bangladesh soon folded their innings as Junaid Khan, who troubled the batsmen throughout the innings, finished with 4-19 for Pakistan.
The sub par total, however, could not leave Bangladesh dispirited as bowlers responded with some early breakthroughs with Mustafiz leading their way.
Shoaib Malik and Imam rescued Pakistan from 3-18 with a 67-run fourth wicket stand before Rubel Hossain separated them. Mashrafee took a blinder at mid-wicket as Malik left for 30.
Imam, who looked solid in the other end, also got some support from Asif Ali (31) before Mehedi dragged the latter out of this crease to break their 71-run sixth wicket stand.
The game ended as contest once Imam fell to the same trap by Mahmudullah seven balls later after playing one of the finest knocks of the tournament.
Bangladesh will now face India in the final on Friday.