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Centurion Shehzad keeps Pakistan's semi-final hopes alive

شعار Reuters Reuters 30/03/2014 Amlan Chakraborty

MIRPUR, Bangladesh - Ahmed Shehzad became the first Pakistani batsman to hit a Twenty20 International century as the 2009 champions crushed Bangladesh by 50 runs in a Group Two match to keep alive their semi-final hopes in the World Twenty20 on Sunday.

Right-handed Shehzad remained unbeaten after a sparkling 111 off 62 balls to fire Pakistan to a commanding 190 for five before they returned to restrict Bangladesh to 140-7 for a comprehensive victory.

"I'm very proud," Shehzad told reporters. "Before coming here that was my aim, that in pool games itself, I need to make a century to become the first Pakistani player with centuries in all three formats."

The result meant hosts Bangladesh and Australia have no chance of progressing any further in the tournament.

The winner of Tuesday's Pakistan v West Indies match will grab the second semi-final spot from Group Two after India qualified for last four with a hat-trick of wins.

Faced with a mammoth task, Bangladesh's chase never really took off.

Opener Tamim Iqbal (16) added 30 quick runs in just over three overs with Anamul Haq (18) before being castled by Umar Gul (3-30) and triggering a top order collapse the hosts could not really recover from.

Pakistan spin trio of Saeed Ajmal (2-20), Shahid Afridi and Zulfiqar Babar struck in quick successions to deny Bangladesh any momentum.

Shakib Al Hasan (38) hit Babar for two consecutive sixes and played with natural flair in his 32-ball knock but it did little beyond injecting some temporarily excitement in the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium where the crowd had gone silent.

Shehzad, 22, lit up the stadium with his clean-hitting, playing routine as well as cheeky shots to expose the limitation of the home side's bowling.

The right-hander hit paceman Mashrafe Mortaza for three successive boundaries and a six in the third over to signal his intention and never relented.

It took him only 30 balls to race to his half-century after Pakistan had opted to bat first in their must-win match.

Cruising at 43 for no loss in the fifth over, Pakistan lost three quick wickets to slump to 71 for three but Shehzad was unperturbed as well as unstoppable.

Boundaries continued to flow from his blade and he took a single off Shakib to bring up the second century of this year's tournament after Englishman Alex Hales hit 116 against Sri Lanka on Thursday.

Shehzad, whose previous best was 98 not out against Zimbabwe in 2013, celebrated the feat with his fifth six as he and Afridi (22) plundered 24 runs off that productive Mortaza over.

"That Harare knock is close to my heart because that time my ODI position was not secure and I was trying to make a comeback. That knock gave me a lot of joy even if I missed a century," he said.

"It gave me the confidence that I can go beyond that. I was on 70-odd today when (partner) Shoaib Malik told me I can easily get the century.

"I also got captain's message 'you play full 20 overs and let others play around you'. This is how it works in Twenty20 when a set batsman has to anchor the innings."

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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