Bangladesh spinners did their bit in restricting the Pakistan opener, but he turned it on against the seamers
It also ensured Australia was eliminated from the competition. The second semi-final place is now to be decided between Pakistan and West Indies who meet on Tuesday at this venue.
It was a brilliant innings by Shezhad piloting Pakistan to 190-5. He was particularly severe on the Bangladesh medium-pacers. Shehzad's 86 runs came off just 38 balls from the seamers, and it exposed the lack of sophistication of Bangladesh bowling. Shezhad has a T20 average of just 16 against spin (and 37 against pace) yet Bangladesh opened with two seamers and gave him a head start. The score was 34 off three overs before spin was introduced.
Then when he had been restricted by the combined slow-arm efforts of Abdur Razzak and Shakib Al Hasan and the off-spin of Mahmadullah, seam was re-introduced in the 13th over, bowled by Ziaur Rahman, 22 runs came off that over after just 23 had been eeked from four overs of spin. Then Shezhad clattered 16 off Mashrafe Mortaza’s third over and, with the help of Shahid Afridi, 24 off his fourth.
Powering the ball mainly over long-on and deep mid-wicket, and using some outrageous footwork borrowed from AB de Villiers, stepping right across outside off-stump before the bowler released, Shezhad was actually caught on the long-on boundary in the penultimate over but Mortaza had overstepped.
In the same over Afridi was caught at deep cover but the fielder fell over the boundary rope still holding the ball, instead of, as is often seen now, tossing the ball back inside the playing area. It underlined the lack of precision in Bangladesh outcricket. Its fielding was generally lacking in the intensity required to prevail at this level.
Shezhad finished with 86 off 38 balls off seam at a strike rate of 226. His strike-rate against spin was just 104. Four overs from Mortaza were carted for 63 runs. Yet the off-spin of Mahmadullah which went for just 24 was not fully utilised. Abdur Razzak was the most effective bowler with 2-20 from his four overs. In this tournament, seamers have leaked an average of eight runs an over and spinners just 6.2. You would have thought Bangladesh could have utilised its home conditions better.
Not surprisingly after a purposeful start, mainly against seam, Bangladesh’s innings came unstuck against spin. The crafty Saeed Ajmal, after being thumped almost for six first ball, induced a tame return catch from Anamul Haque and there were wickets too for Shahid Afridi and Zulfiqar Babar.
Despite Shakib’s vigorous efforts Bangladesh declined to 61-4 and the required rate mounted to 14 an over and it eventually went down in a flurry of shots.
Pakistan’s bowling is probably the best in the tournament, with four excellent spinners and two good pace options. Its batting, however, could be put under pressure if the opposition do its homework properly.