Kolkata | Opener Fakhar Zaman capped his return with an attacking fifty after Shaheen Shah Afridi's fiery spell as Pakistan knocked Bangladesh out of the World Cup with a seven-wicket win to keep their slim semifinal hopes alive here on Tuesday.
Shaheen spearheaded their three-pronged pace attack with splendid figures of 9-1-23-3 as Pakistan bundled out Bangladesh for a lowly 204 in 45.1 overs.
Fakhar, who missed five of their six matches because of a knee injury, smashed seven sixes and three fours in his 74-ball 81. Abdullah Shafique also struck a quick 68 off 69 balls (9x4, 2x6) as the new-look opening pair laid the foundation with an imposing 128-run alliance.
Just when it looked like a one-way traffic for Pakistan, off-spinner Mehidy Hasan Miraz (3/60) took both the openers but with no scoreboard pressure Pakistan knocked off the paltry 205-run target in 32.3 overs.
This was Bangladesh's sixth loss on the trot as the Shakib Al Hasan-led side became the first team to be officially eliminated from the 10-team global showpiece with two matches in hand.
They next play Sri Lanka and Australia in their last two matches.
Having returned to winning ways after enduring four defeats, Pakistan with three wins from seven matches kept their faint semifinal hopes alive. They next take on New Zealand before concluding their league campaign against England.
Pakistan's new left-right handed opening duo started off with utmost caution, conceding two maiden off Bangladesh's new ball bowlers Shoriful Islam and Taskin Ahmed in first three overs.
But that was it, as the Pakistani duo soon started milking the attack and raced to 52 for no loss inside the powerplay.
The duo soon switched gears with Zaman smoking Taskin Ahmed over square leg for a 99-metre six. There was no stopping them and Shaifque took on Mustafizur Rahman for three successive boundaries.
Zaman brought up his 16th ODI half-century in 51 balls when he stepped up to Bangla pacer Taskin with a massive six down the ground. In the previous over, Shafique took 51 balls to get to his third half-century.
Zaman, however, missed out on a well-deserved century, holing out at midwicket to give Mehidy his third wicket.
Skipper Babar Azam, however, continued to disappoint getting out for 9 (16b) when he mistimed a shot off Miraz.
But Mohammad Rizwan (26 not out) and Iftikhar Ahmed (17 not out) finished off the chase with 107 balls to spare.
Earlier, Shaheen rattled the Bangladeshi top-order and became the fastest Pakistani to reach 100 ODI wickets. Mohammad Wasim Jr. then cleaned up the tail returning with figures of 8.1-1-31-3 as Bangladesh failed to last the distance yet again to be bowled out in 45.1 overs.
Shaheen may have lost his pace a bit after recovering from a knee injury, but he bowled with clever variations and extracted swing on a flat Eden wicket.
The 23-year-old straightway got into the action, trapping Tanzid Hasan leg before wicket with extra bounce and late swing. That happened to be his 100th wicket in ODIs. He became the fastest Pakistani to do so beating Saqlain Mushtaq's mark by a couple of innings.
A brilliant low diving catch by Usama Mir at forward short leg made it two in two overs for Shaheen.
It would have been worse for Bangladesh but Mahmudullah made a responsible 56 off 70 balls (6x4, 1x6) in a 79-run partnership with Litton Das (45; 64b).
From 6/2 in 2.4 overs, Bangladesh were looking at yet another capitulation when Haris Rauf dismissed Mushfiqur Rahim to reduce them to 23/3 before Mahmudullah came to his team's rescue.
The intent was clear from the Bangladesh perspective as they promoted Mahmudullah to No 5.
After Shaheen was taken off the attack, Pakistan also failed to build pressure from both ends, giving Litton and Mahmudullah enough opportunity to make a quick recovery.
The likes of Wasim Jr and Mir, who impressed with their tidy show against South Africa, gave a lot of freebies and the Bangladeshi duo was happy to pierce the gaps.
They welcomed Wasim Jr with a couple of boundaries while Mir too was hit for a four in his first over.
Bangladesh were looking in no trouble before off-spinner Iftikhar Ahmed (1/44) provided the crucial breakthrough dismissing Litton.
Shaheen was recalled and bowling around the wicket, he produced a gem of a delivery to end Mahmudullah's stay in the middle.
Skipper Shakib Al Hasan then tried to forge a partnership but frittered away his start and was done in by a short ball from by Haris Raul (2/36).
World Cup score board: PAK vs BAN
Abdullah Shafique lbw b Mehidy Hasan Miraz 68
Fakhar Zaman c Towhid Hridoy b Mehidy Hasan Miraz 81
Babar Azam c Mahmudullah b Mehidy Hasan Miraz 9
Mohammad Rizwan not out 26
Iftikhar Ahmed not out 17
Extras: (LB-2, W-2) 4
Total: (For 3 wickets in 32.3 overs) 205
Fall of wickets: 1-128, 2-160, 3-169
Bowling: Taskin Ahmed 6-1-36-0, Shoriful Islam 4-1-25-0, Mehidy Hasan Miraz 9-0-60-3, Mustafizur Rahman 7-0-47-0, Shakib Al Hasan 5.3-0-30-0, Najmul Hossain Shanto 1-0-5-0.