Nawaz, openers star as Pakistan down Bangladesh in tri-series thriller

CHRISTCHURCH: Mohammad Rizwan and skipper Babar Azam starred with brilliant half-centuries before Mohammad Nawaz smashed an unbeaten 45 off 20 to help Pakistan beat Bangladesh by seven wickets in a thrilling penultimate game of the Tri-series, here on Thursday.

Set to chase a respectable target of  174, the reliable duo, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, laid the strong foundation with a centurion opening stand to put Pakistan in a commanding position.

Batting at no 4, Nawaz played a superb cameo as he struck five boundaries and a six to ensure that he took his side home after a slight jitter in the middle.

The Green Shirts were sailing comfortably to the target before medium pacer Hasan Mahmud struck twice in the 13th over to send set batter Babar Azam (55 off 40) and incoming Haider Ali (0) back to the pavilion.

Following this minor hassle, Rizwan then joined hands with Nawaz and built another valiant partnership of 64 runs for the fourth wicket to take Pakistan near the finishing line before he fell prey to part-timer Soumya Sarkar in the second last over.

Player of the match, Rizwan top-scored for the side as he played a courageous knock of 69 off 56, laced with four boundaries.

Earlier, Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan and Litton Das scored magnificent half-centries as they stormed through the Pakistani bowling attack with a valiant 88-run partnership for the fourth wicket, helping their side to post a respectable total of 173/6.

Das starred with 69 off 42, laced with six fours and two sixes, while Shakib scored 68 off 42, including three sixes and seven fours, as the pair anchored  Bangladesh’s batting after they slipped to 41/2 in the 6th over.

Opting to bat first after winning the toss, Bangladesh had a dismal start to their innings as opener Sarkar fell cheaply on 4 in the third over by pacer Naseem Shah before Mohammad Wasim got rid of Najmul Hossain Shanto.

Shakib then combined excellently with Das as they moved the scoreboard at an impressive speed in the middle overs and took the total to 129 in the 15th over before the latter was removed by Nawaz while hitting big.

Green Shirts, however, made a comeback in the death overs offering just 12 runs while picking three wickets in the last two overs.

For Pakistan, Naseem and Wasim bagged two wickets each while Nawaz took a scalp.