Pallekele: Opener Imran Nazir hit the fastest half-century of the ongoing World Twenty20 to help Pakistan enter the Super Eights with a crushing eight-wicket victory over Bangladesh.
Imran reached his 50 in just 25 deliveries, one quicker than Chris Gayle’s 26-ball effort against Australia the other day.
Needing a win to advance to the next round, Pakistan rode on Nazir’s 36-ball 72 and his record 124-run opening stand with skipper Mohammad Hafeez to chase the challenging 176-run target with eight balls to spare.
At the post-match presentation ceremony, Imran credited coach Dav Whatmore and captain Mohammed Hafeez for his brilliant performance.
Hafeez hailed the team’s effort but conceded that there is still room for improvement in the pace bowling department.
Imran said the innings will do a world of good to his confidence ahead of the Super Eights.
The following are excerpts
Hafeez: I want to thank the Almighty… I think it was a great team effort… The boys have shown the right attitude thus far. And we want to continue playing with this positive attitude.
Bangladesh did play well… They batted well to post an imposing total. Our bowlers tried to bowl hard but things were not working for them.
Imran is a wonderful batsman… He batted brilliantly. It was his night… He took calculated risks and he executed the shots well. Other batsmen also played well around him.
Our bowling is a bit of concern… I think the fast bowlers are trying too much… They should stick to their basics.
It’s good that our batsmen are in great form as we progress to the Super Eights stage. Their good form will give us a lot of confidence… Nasir Jamshed has been a revelation…
He is only 22, but he has shown a lot of maturity. I hope he continues in the same fashion in the Super Eights stage.
The boys are responding to the challenge… They have shown great character… I’m really happy with their effort.
Mushfiqur Rahim: We were under pressure… We didn’t play well in the last game… So, we had to perform… I think we put up a good performance… But Pakistan were better. The boys really worked hard for the last few days. The way the middle-order batsmen played was brilliant. Shakib played an amazing innings… He took the fight to the opposition and helped us in reaching the big total. I think the bowlers failed to bowl in the right areas… They gave away too many loose balls.
Pakistan are a fantastic team… They are one of the dangerous sides in the tournament. They are strong in every department. They executed their plans well.
We can take some positives out of this tournament and go home and work on a few other things…
We are not used to playing on these sort of wickets… It’s a new experience for us… We will probably work on our shortcomings and try to improve on our weakness.
Nazir: I would like to thank all my teammates and coach Dav Whatmore for showing the confidence in me. I’m happy that I could live up to their expectations… I owe a lot to Dav... I was lucky that the shots came off well today.
Before I went out to bat, the coach and captain asked me to play my natural game… They asked me to go out there and hit the balls. I’m glad that I could do that.
This knock has boosted my confidence and I hope that I can play this sort of innings in the matches to come. We want to play our natural game… We want to play freely, without any pressure.