Bangladesh eliminated from Cricket World Cup as Pakistan target semi-final spot

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Former champions Pakistan kept alive their slender chances of making the semi-finals of the 50-over World Cup with a comprehensive seven-wicket victory against Bangladesh, who were eliminated from the tournament on Tuesday.

Electing to bat, Bangladesh never recovered from a top-order collapse and posted a modest 204 before being all out in the 46th over at Eden Gardens.

Pakistan’s three-pronged pace attack impressed with the new ball and were equally effective in the death overs with only Mahmudullah (56) managing a half-century for Bangladesh.

Openers Fakhar Zaman (81) and Abdullah Shafique (68) combined in a 128-run stand to set up the victory that came with 17.3 overs to spare in a major net run-rate boost for them.

Babar Azam’s men moved into fifth place after their third win in seven matches, while Bangladesh became the first team to drop out of contention.

“We are trying to force things but it isn’t working,” Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan said after their sixth defeat in seven matches.

“We have to perform together, which is not happening. We are looking for answers but aren’t getting them.”

Fakhar Zaman and Abdullah Shafique’s partnership ensured Pakistan cruised to victory

Pakistan head coach Grant Bradburn had rued how lack of swing in India had defanged his team’s pace attack, usually their strong suit, in the tournament.

Bradburn must have been pleased as the pace trio of Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Wasim and Haris Rauf collectively claimed eight of the 10 Bangladesh wickets in the match.

Left-arm quick Afridi (3-23) struck with his fifth delivery, trapping Tanzid Hasan lbw for his 100th ODI wicket.

Najmul Hossain Shanto fell in Afridi’s next over and Bangladesh slumped to 23-3 after Rauf (2-36) had Mushfiqur Rahim caught behind in the sixth over.

Litton Das (45) and Mahmudullah arrested the slide but the flourish Bangladesh needed did not materialise. Shakib made 43 but Wasim claimed three wickets in his last seven deliveries to hasten Bangladesh’s collapse.

Shaheen Shah Afridi starred with the ball for Pakistan

Replacing Imam-ul-Haq at the top of the order, Fakhar found his form as he and Abdullah started dictating terms right from the start.

A ball after Abdullah brought up his 50 with a single off Taskin Ahmed, player-of-the-match Fakhar reached his own more spectacularly by hitting the pacer over his head for a six.

Off-spinner Mehidy Hasan Miraz (3-60) trapped Abdullah lbw, a decision that was upheld after the batter challenged it.

Babar gifted his wicket and Fakhar, who smacked seven sixes, fell short of his hundred but Pakistan’s victory was merely a matter of time by then.

“We are trying to win our remaining matches and see where we stand,” Babar said of their semi-final hopes. “This win hopefully gives us confidence in the coming matches.”

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