A brilliant cricketing performance by Pakistan and Afghanistan went down to a thrilling last over, with the contest being decided in dramatic fashion.
Afghanistan chose to bat first in the second match of the Asia Cup Super Four in Abu Dhabi. Their top three struggled to get to grips with the Pakistan bowling attack and found themselves 94-3 at the halfway point of their innings.
Hashmatullah Shahidi rescued Afghanistan with his highest ODI score (97 not out off 118 balls, seven fours), adding 94 for the fourth wicket with captain Asghar Afghan, who tore into the Pakistan bowling to dominate their partnership. Afghan scored 67 off just 56 balls, with two fours and five sixes.
Shahidi and Gulbadin Naib then added an undefeated 45 for the seventh wicket to lift Afghanistan to a solid 257-6 off their 50 overs, with Shahidi scoring 34 off 16 balls as the senior partner.
Mohammad Nawaz picked up 3-57, while Afridi kept a tight line, conceding just 3.80 runs to the over and taking 2-38.
Pakistan lost Fakhar Zaman without scoring in the first over, after which Imam-ul-Haq (80 off 104 balls, five fours, one six) and Babar Azam (66 off 94 balls, four fours, one six) put on 154 for the second wicket. Both were back in the hut with the score on 158-3, with Haris Sohail (13 off 21) following with the score on 194-4.
The 45th over, bowled by Naib, kept Pakistan under pressure and below the asking rate. Naib bowled two wides and conceded five singles before picking up the wicket of Sarfraz Ahmed for eight and leaving Pakistan on 216-5.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman then bowled a three-run over to ramp up the pressure on Pakistan, and the next over Rashid Khan removed Asif Ali (7) one ball after being hit for six.
Nawaz slogged Aftab Alam for six over long on at the end of the 11th over to edge ahead of the run rate, but Khan knocked his middle and leg-stumps over, leaving Pakistan on 242-7.
Hasan Ali smashed Khan over long on for six but was beaten off the next two balls, leaving Pakistan with 1o runs to win off the last over.
Alam bowled a dot ball to Shoaib Malik the first ball of the final over, but the next ball was whipped over deep square leg for six, followed by a flick to the fine-leg boundary for four to bring up Alam’s 50 and seal a dramatic win for Pakistan.
Malik ended on 51 off just 43 balls, with three fours and a six (S/R 118.60) to snatch victory away from a shattered Afghanistan side who had done everything and more expected of them.
Khan bowled superbly, taking 3-46 (econ 4.60), with Mujeeb bowling a tight line to take 2-33 (econ 3.30). It was a terrific victory for Pakistan, but Afghanistan have certainly served notice that they are a competitive outfit in this Asia Cup.
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