Pallekele: Pakistan opener Imran Nazir smashed 72 off 36 balls to lead his team into the Super Eight stage at the World Twenty20 with an emphatic eight-wicket victory over Bangladesh on Tuesday.
Bangladesh needed to win by at least 36 runs to knock out Pakistan in the final Group D match, and Shakib Al Hasan's 84 off 54 balls in a total of 175 for 6 raised hopes an upset was possible. But they were dashed by Nazir smashing nine fours and three sixes in a 124-run opening stand off 81 balls with captain Mohammad Hafeez (45) as Pakistan cruised to 178-2 in 18.4 overs to recorded their highest ever run-chase.
Pakistan topped the group after also beating New Zealand by 13 runs.
Pakistan join India, South Africa and Australia in the seemingly more difficult Group 2 of the Super Eight stage. Defending champions England, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and West Indies are in Group 1.
Bangladesh had a sniff of victory, but Abul Hasan dropped Nazir at mid-on in Shafiul Islam's first over with the batsman on 1.
But the life didn't change Nazir's style of smashing the ball around the field at Pallekele International Stadium.
His half-century took 25 balls — the quickest at this World Twenty20 — with seven fours and three sixes and he hit a further three boundaries.
Abul Hasan removed both openers in the 14th over when he had Nazir caught in the deep and Hafeez edged to wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim.
Nasir Jamshed, who scored a half-century against New Zealand at the same venue, added 52 with Kamran Akmal as Pakistan raced to the target with eight deliveries to spare.
Earlier, Shakib hit 11 fours and two sixes against some erratic bowling and poor fielding to record the highest individual knock by a Bangladesh batsman in the 20-over format.
After Bangladesh won the toss and elected to bat first, Tamim Iqbal hammered five fours before he was run out for 24 and Shakib took charge.
Shakib added 68 with captain Mushfiqur Rahim (25), but both batsmen were dropped by Shahid Afridi and Sohail Tanvir in Yasir Arafat's (3 for 25) first over.
Tanvir, who bowled Mohammad Ashraful in his second over, was smacked for three boundaries by Shakib. But it was paceman Umar Gul who was the most wayward of the Pakistan bowlers, pitching too short to be hammered for 43 off his three overs without taking a wicket.
Shakib eclipsed Bangladesh's previous best of 81, made by Nazimuddin against Pakistan in 2007 at Nairobi, when he scooped Saeed Ajmal behind fine leg for three runs in the penultimate over.
Shakib departed in the last over when he failed to clear Umar Akmal at long-on, while Nasir Hossain (11) — also dropped by wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal on zero — was clean bowled on the last delivery.