Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman returned to form with a sizzling 81 to help secure a comfortable seven-wicket win over Bangladesh in their World Cup clash in Kolkata on Tuesday, which kept their slim semi-final hopes alive.
Pakistan chased down a below-par target of 205 in 32.3 overs, for their third win following four straight defeats. The result moved them up to fifth in the points table but with the top four teams – India, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia – all enjoying vastly superior net run rate, Pakistan still have a very low chance of squeezing into the last four.
Earlier in the day, pace spearhead Shaheen Afridi was on fire on a sluggish surface to help limit Bangladesh to 204 all out.
Afridi (3-23) gave the perfect start to Pakistan, trapping Tanzid Hasan lbw in the first over for his 100th wicket in ODIs.
He became the quickest fast bowler to the mark in one-dayers, breaking the record held by Australia pacer Mitchell Starc. The left-arm quick was ably supported by Mohammad Wasim, who got considerable reverse swing to pick up 3-31.
Bangladesh crossed the 200-run mark thanks to a solid 70-ball 56 from Mahmudullah, a battling 45 from opener Liton Das and 64-ball 43 from captain Shakib Al Hasan.
Afridi struck with the fifth ball of his first over, trapping opener Hasan right in front of the wicket and then saw Usama Mir clutch on to a flick off Najmul Hossain Shanto (four) in his next.
Pace partner Haris Rauf made it 23-3 with the wicket of Mushfiqur Rahim caught behind for five in the sixth over.
It took a 79-run stand between Mahmudullah and Das to carry Bangladesh to 102 when Iftikhar Ahmed broke the stand with a soft dismissal of Das, caught at midwicket.
Afridi came back for his second spell to end Mahmudullah's vigil, bowling him with a superb leg cutter that hit the top of the off stump.
Mahmudullah's knock had a six and six boundaries.
Shakib, who had a poor tournament with just 61 runs in five innings ahead of Tuesday's game, got some form back before he mistimed a hook off Rauf and was caught by Agha Salman after hitting four boundaries.
All-rounder Wasim then returned to polish off the tail, hitting the stumps of Mehidy Hasan, Taskin Ahmed and Mustafizur Rahman in successive overs as Bangladesh lost their last six wickets for 74 runs.
Pakistan then turned up the heat in the chase, with openers Abdullah Shafique (68 from 69 balls) and Zaman (81 off 74 balls) adding 128 in 21 overs.
Zaman was in particularly punishing mood, smashing seven sixes during his stay.
Bangladesh thus became the first team to officially get knocked out of the tournament following their sixth defeat.