Mirpur: Pakistan regained the Asia Cup title after a gap of 12 years as they pulled off a nail-biting two run victory against Bangladesh who came agonisingly close to a historic triumph but ran out of steam in the dying moments to go past the target here Thursday.
Pakistan were restricted to a modest 236 for nine but held their nerve to stop the spirited hosts at 234 for eight, shattering Bangladeshi hopes of notching up their maiden Asia Cup title.
It was a case of so near and yet so far the Bangladeshis who reached the final for the first time and very nearly upstaged their fancied opponents in a tournament in which they upset world champions India and Sri Lanka.
The hosts needed nine runs of Aizaz Cheema's tense last over but fell short by two runs as a stunned silence descended on a fully packed Sher-e-Bangla National stadium. Disappointed Bangladeshi players shed tears on the field while fans were equally heart-broken after the nerve-wracking contest.
The in-form Shakib Al Hasan (68) and Tamim Iqbal (60) were the notable performers for Bangladesh but none of the other batsmen could come up with significant scores to tilt the scale in their favour.
Chasing a modest target, Bangladesh made a watchful start to their run chase as openers Tamim Iqbal and Nazimuddin (16) shunned extravagance and looked to keep their wickets intact and soon cantered to 62 for no loss in the first 15 overs.
With left-handed Iqbal in full flow, Saeed Ajmal was introduced into the attack but Bangladesh still picked up a lucky boundary, this time between the wicketkeeper and the leg slip.
While Tamim flourished, Nazimuddin struggled against the spinners. He survived a leg before decision in the 10th over and could have been out in the 12th over as well when he hit hard a Aizaz Cheema ball but Hammad Azam could hold on to the catch at the third man area.
Earlier, Bangladesh produced a fine bowling display before a late burst propelled Pakistan to 236 for nine.
But if not for some lacklustre bowling by Shahdat Hossain towards the end and useful contributions from Shahid Afridi (32) and wicket-keeper Sarfaraz Ahmed (46 not out), the target could have been much lower for Bangladesh.
Shahdat gave away 19 runs in the final over of the innings and was guilty of bowling two no-balls, which not only boosted Pakistan's score but also their confidence.
Young Sarfaraz top-scored for Pakistan with an unbeaten 46, while Shahid Afridi played a 22-ball 32-run cameo to wriggle Pakistan out of trouble.
Mohammad Hafeez (40), Umar Akmal (30) and Hammad Azam (30) all failed to capitalise on good starts.
For Bangaldesh, experienced pacer Mashrafe Mortaza (2/48)), and spin duo of Abdur Razak (2/26) and Shakib Al Hasan (2/39) scalped two wickets apiece, while Nazmul Hossain (1/36) and Mahmudullah (1/14) picked up one each. Shahdat conceded 63 runs off his nine overs.