Pakistan edged past Afghanistan in a nail-biting thriller by 3 wickets to start off their Super 4 campaign with a victory in Abu Dhabi. However, it wasn’t possible before Afghanistan gave a real scare to Pakistan. It was a spirited performance by the Afghans. Yet again Mujeeb-ur-Rahman and Rashid Khan was magical bagging wickets and conceding runs at exceptional economy rates. In the end, it was Pakistan former skipper Shoaib Malik who displayed his experience and took the Men in Green over the finishing line.
After batting first, Afghanistan posted a pretty competitive total of 257 runs in their allotted 50 overs. It was a great piece of batting by Hashmatullah Shahidi and skipper Asghar Afghan. Mohammad Shehzad started off quite brilliantly and struck some good shots in the process. Asghar and Shahidi shared a useful stand of 94 runs to eventually propel Afghanistan to a competitive total of 257 runs.
The skipper was quite brilliant and raced his way to 67 of 56 deliveries which included a couple of fours and 5 sixes. He looked in great touch and his dismissal helped Pakistan stem the run flow. It was some poor sense of judgement by the Afghanistan batters and Shahidi refused a single when he was nearing his 100 It eventually proved quite crucial in the end.
Pakistan was given a tough fight by Afghanistan
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.
Now here is what winning skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed said at the post-match presentation
We were shaken. Credit to Imam, Babar and the way Shoaib played towards the end, that was fantastic. The spinners they have, I reckon they’re the best in the world. Against them, to chase 250 in these conditions, you have to bat out of your skins. Shadab couldn’t pass his fitness test. Got a lot of confidence the way we won today. The team has been motivated by this performance. Our fielding has improved in last one and a half years, but today it went awry.