Colombo: Pakistan opener Imran Nazir's fireworks with the bat hogged the limelight on Tuesday after Shakib Al Hasan's heroics went in vain for Bangladesh, who bowed out of the ICC World Twenty20 with an eight-wicket defeat.
Shakib, who is the No. 1 allrounder in Test and ODI cricket and No. 5 in Twenty20 internationals, has been the standout performer for Bangladesh for quite some time now, but he was once again let down by his team that has failed to show any improvement since being granted the Full Member status by the ICC in 2000.
Nazir's career on the other hand has seen more valleys than peaks since he made both his Test and ODI debut for Pakistan in 1999. But with a strike rate of close to 140, he is a perfect fit for the Twenty20 format, and on Tuesday he made Bangladesh pay.
The 25-year old Shakib, who made his international debut in 2006, once again proved to be the one-man Bangladesh army with his 84 off just 54 balls going in vain. After scoring 175 batting first, Bangladesh needed to win by 36 or more runs to leapfrog Pakistan into the Super Eights. However, Nazir's 36-ball 72 dashed Bangladesh hopes in a flash.
Pakistan had to wait until the final over to get rid of Shakib after he failed to clear long off where Umar Akmal took the catch off Yasir Arafat. His innings included 11 fours and 2 sixes. But Nazir's blistering knock, punctuated with 9 fours and 3 sixes, saw Pakistan complete their highest T20 chase ever en route to the Super Eights stage, where they join India, Australia and South Africa in Group 1.
Nazir's 50 off just 25 balls was also the fastest of this edition of the World Twenty20. He brought it up with a six as Pakistan reached 92 for 0 at the halfway mark. Nazir fell in the 14th over of Pakistan's run-chase, caught at long-on.
Pakistan take on South Africa on September 28 to open their Super Eights campaign and Nazir's success at the top of the order will be pivotal in their progress to the semi-finals.