Sport

Pakistan seal T20 World Cup semi-final spot as South Africa boost their hopes

Pakistan became the first side to guarantee their place in the T20 World Cup semi-finals after comfortably beating Namibia by 45 runs in Abu Dhabi.

The captain, Babar Azam, took a slight gamble by electing to bat first, but his decision was vindicated as Pakistan scored 189 for two, setting their opponents a target of 190. Namibia ended their 20 overs on 144 for five, likely ending their hopes of progressing beyond the Super 12s stage.

Babar led the way after winning the toss, hitting a sparkling 70 from 49 balls, while fellow opener Mohammad Rizwan finished unbeaten on 79. Mohammad Hafeez enjoyed a cameo of 32 at a strike-rate of 200 as Pakistan clobbered 62 runs from the last 23 deliveries of the innings.

Namibia kept themselves in the game by advancing to 70 for two at the midway point of their reply. As they attempted to inject some urgency into proceedings, however, they stumbled to 110 for five by the 17th over. JJ Smits finished on 43 off 31 balls but his big hitting could not get them close to their target.

Pace bowlers Hasan Ali and Haris Rauf and spinners Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan collected a wicket each while there was also a run out as Pakistan maintained their 100% record at the tournament. Pakistan can secure top spot in Group 2 by beating Scotland in Sharjah on Sunday. Their haul of eight points can only be matched by one of Afghanistan or New Zealand, who still have to play one another.

Earlier, South Africa boosted their hopes of reaching the semi-finals with a six-wicket victory over Bangladesh in their Super 12s match in Abu Dhabi. The Proteas chased down Bangladesh’s below-par total of 84 in 13.3 overs for the loss of four wickets to consolidate second spot behind England in Group 1.

The winless Tigers struggled to get going after being made to bat first, with only Mahedi Hasan (27), Liton Das (24) and Shamim Hossain (11) managing double figures. Kagiso Rabada ran through Bangladesh’s top order, taking three early wickets – including Mohammad Naim and Soumya Sarkar in successive balls – to reduce them to 24 for three with an unusual amount of swing from the white ball.

Wicketkeeper-batter Das put up a fight, but the runs never flowed – he registered just one boundary in 36 deliveries – and he had little support. Off-spinner Mahedi, batting at No 8, prolonged the Bangladesh innings with a positive knock of 27 from 25 balls, including two fours and a six off Tabraiz Shamsi. He was ninth man out – caught and bowled by Anrich Nortje – and Nasum Ahmed fell, hit wicket, next ball to bring Bangladesh’s innings to a sorry end within 18.2 overs.

The Tigers’ meagre total was always going to be difficult to defend and so it proved, despite a first-over breakthrough when Reeza Hendricks was trapped lbw by Taskin Ahmed. Opener Quinton De Kock looked to be in good touch with three early boundaries before being bowled by Mahedi for 16 in the fifth over.

Aiden Markram departed soon after without having troubled the scorers, caught at first slip by Mohammad Naim off the bowling of Taskin. Rassie Van Der Dussen (22) tried to win the game with a six, only to be denied by a stunning diving catch from Shoriful Islam as he sprinted towards the boundary.

But South Africa secured victory in the following over, with captain Temba Bavuma (31 not out) and David Miller (five not out) getting them comfortably over the line. South Africa face England in their final group game, while third-placed Australia will play Bangladesh and West Indies before that match on Saturday.