DHAKA: The lower order batsmen of Bangladesh have kept their cool under pressure to beat Pakistan by five wickets in a crucial match played at Dhaka on Wednesday, securing a place in the Asia Cup final.
18 needed from 12 when Muhammad Sami came to bowl and released the pressure by conceding 15 from the 19th over.
The winning boundary triggered wild celebrations in the dressing room and in the boisterous gallery, where Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was among those watching.
The hosts will play their second Asia Cup final against India on March 6th while Pakistan will face Sri Lanka on March 4, although neither team can now reach the final.
Soumya Sarkar was Bangladesh's highest scorer with 48 runs, helping his team to 131-5 in 19.1 overs after they restricted Pakistan to 129-7.
Mohammad Amir threatened to spoil the hosts' party in front of a packed stadium when he bowled Soumya and Shakib Al Hasan in successive overs during his second spell, to finish 2-26.
When he bowled Shakib, Bangladesh still needed 26 runs in 16 balls with the tail exposed to Pakistan's top pace attack.
But Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza, not out on 12, moved himself up the order to hit two boundaries in Amir's next two balls and take off some pressure.
The match swung decisively to Bangladesh's favour when Mashrafe and Mahmudullah scored 15 runs in Mohammad Sami's next over, which included two no balls.
Pakistan's captain Shahid Afridi rued his side's poor batting. "We made too many mistakes. It wasn't a good total, but the bowlers did superbly," Afridi said.
Pakistan was unable to a repeat performance of 2012 when it had won against Sri Lanka. It lost its earlier game against India, but survived a match against the UAE. India has so far remained the tournament’s unbeatable champion winning all three matches it played.