Pakistan registered a sensational victory in their first Super 4 match against Afghanistan winning the nerve-wracking clash by 3 wickets and with just 3 deliveries to spare. Afghanistan gave them a valiant fight and was always in the game. However, their inexperience proved to be costly as Shoaib Malik eventually helped Pakistan chase down the target of 258 runs. After batting first Afghanistan had posted a competitive score of 257 runs in their allotted 50 overs. Hashmatullah Shahidi was the highest scorer for Afghans with a well composed 97. In a bid to score his 100, Shahidi refused a single which proved to be quite important in the end.
Afghanistan started off nicely with Mohammad Shehzad playing some exquisite shots. However, the match was turned in Afghanistan’s favour when Hashmatullah Shahidi and Asghar Afghan shared a great stand of 94 runs. The skipper, in particular, looked in great touch and struck the ball quite magnificently. He raced off to 67 of 56 deliveries, an innings which was studded with 2 fours and 5 hits over the fence. Shahidi, on the other hand, played sensibly and neared a century during the final over of the innings.
Afghanistan gave a serious scare to Pakistan
He batted pretty nicely. However, refusing the single at that particular moment wasn’t quite the right idea as Afghanistan could have scored a few runs more. However, a score of 257 was always going to be difficult for Pakistan to chase down.
Pakistan lost the wicket of Fakhar Zaman in the final delivery of the opening over. However his partner Imam-ul[-Haq looked in great touch and shared a stunning partnership of 154 runs with Babar Azam. Imam was dismissed in the form of a run-out while Rashid Khan bamboozled Babar Azam with a brilliant delivery. From there on Afghanistan bowled quite superbly and gave a check on their run flow.
The match went in favour of Pakistan only due to the experience of Shoaib Malik in the end. He batted quite superbly and ensured Pakistan reached the target in the final over. He remained unbeaten on 51 of 43 deliveries which included 3 fours and six. It was a very good knock by Malik. However, it was a great performance by Afghanistan to run them so close. It was indeed a great knock by the experienced customer who held his nerve and did the job for his nation. The victory will definitely give Pakistan a lot of confidence going into the next match against India.
Now here is what Man of the Match Shoaib Malik said at the post-match presentation
Being a senior player, the goal was to bat to the 50th over. That was the only thing. At one stage the required rate was 10, but I kept telling myself to play till the last over. Even good bowlers, when they’re bowling at the end, the situation is different. As batsmen, we can charge them. Would like to congratulate them. Every day they’ve been improving. I think they’re a great side.