Pakistan 127 for 5 (Haider 45, Rizwan 40, Mahmudullah 3-10) beat Bangladesh 124 for 7 (Naim 47, Wasim 2-15, Qadir 2-35) by five wickets
Bangladesh won the toss, Bangladesh opted to bat, Bangladesh put up a below par total, Bangladesh lost. You've seen this movie before in this series but anyone who told you this one was no different would have to be treated with scepticism. Because although it looked like the same script might play out, a sensational final over from Mahmudullah took Bangladesh to the brink of a famous victory. It went down to the final delivery, which Mohammad Nawaz carved over extra cover for a boundary to complete a clean sweep for Pakistan, and a heart-breaking loss for their opponents.
Bangladesh got off to a slow start once more, with the top order failing to find enough boundaries in the Powerplay with Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim and Shahnawaz Dahani keeping the pressure up. Both sides had made a number of changes to their XI, with Bangladesh handing out as many as three debuts, and yet they still couldn't help but fall behind. Despite wickets in hand, Pakistan ensured Bangladesh were never able to achieve the acceleration they will have aimed for, managing just 55 in the final eight overs and finishing with 124 for 7.
Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan have both found runs much harder to come by this series, and throughout the Powerplay, they preferred conservatism over aggression. That meant this was the highest opening partnership of the series, but when a rank long hop saw Babar hole out, Pakistan had just 32 runs in seven overs.
The game entered a holding pattern where both sides were content to take it deep. Haider Ali was the glue holding Pakistan's innings together - and the asking rate in check - with a 38-ball 45, but when he and Sarfaraz Ahmed fell off successive Mahmudullah deliveries, Pakistan still needed 8 off 4. It took a six from Iftikhar Ahmed and a final-ball boundary from Nawaz to get over the line even as pandemonium threatened to take over.
That final over
On the first ball of the sixth over, a drive from Babar hit Taskin Ahmed flush on the hand, causing the Bangladesh fast bowler to go off for medical attention, with Shohidul Islam completing his over. When Taskin returned a little later, it seemed like little more than a footnote in the game. But towards the end it became immediately apparent that Shohidul taking over the sixth over meant Bangladesh were a bowler short for the final six deliveries.
Captain Mahmudullah took on the job himself, with Pakistan needing eight. He began with a dot ball before Sarfaraz sent one straight down cow corner's throat, and Haider sent the next one down to long-on. Mahmudullah was on a hat-trick, Pakistan needed eight off three, and two new batters were at the crease. Iftikhar met his first delivery with a lovely lofted drive that went all the way for six, but with two to get off the last two balls, he went for the glory shot and was out caught at short third man.
This is where things began to tip over in bedlam. Mahmudullah bowled from well behind the umpire, and Nawaz pulled out exceptionally late as the ball clattered into the stumps. The umpires called a dead ball but a brief argument ensued, with Bangladesh clearly unhappy about that call. Next delivery, Mahmudullah stopped in his stride, threatening to run the non-striker out. The build-up over, he finally tossed one up full, and Nawaz backed away to clear extra cover, finding a gap and taking Pakistan through to the narrowest of victories.
The immediate squeeze
These three games have felt like clones of each other. Bangladesh, batting first once more, struggled in the Powerplay, with no player personifying their stifled approach more than Mohammad Naim. He top-scored with 47, but took 50 balls to get there. That he needed a sharp acceleration at the end to even manage that strike rate indicates how rough it was in the early stages for the opener, who managed just 10 runs off his first 21 balls. His innings was just one sign of a deeper malaise though, where no one who faced more than three balls was able to get more than a run-a-ball.
Wasim and chances grabbed
Wasim spent the entire T20 World Cup on the bench, even when Hasan Ali's struggles appeared to hint there might be an opening in the side. He has brushed aside that disappointment emphatically in Bangladesh on pitches that aren't designed for his kind of game. After two exceptional performances, it was more of the same for the young fast bowler, who was economical up front, and returned to mop up with a couple of wickets at the death. This might have been a low-intensity game but Wasim treated it as anything but, keeping rigidly to an off stump line in the Powerplay, allowing just five runs in two overs, before being called on to bowl the 17th and 19th. Bangladesh would manage just 10 runs in those two, with two wickets in the 19th to take Wasim's series figures to 11-0-48-5.
Haider finally comes good
Haider's inclusion in the Pakistan side is almost divisive enough to form part of a culture war. There's the mounting statistical evidence he has failed to raise his game at international level, a slew of low scores in innings that palpably lacked confidence underlining that point. And then there's the eye test combined with his domestic form, which indicates this precocious 21-year old is a supremely gifted striker of the ball. These might not be the pitches to showcase that, but in a target of 125 where no other Pakistan batter (min. three balls faced) scored at more than six an over, Haider smashed his way through the Bangladesh attack with 45 off 38. It included a courageous pair of sixes in the 16th over, just after Shohidul had Rizwan chopping on to bring the asking rate back under control and set Pakistan on course.