Pakistan. Credit: Getty Images

Pakistan once again produced a clinical bowling effort led by young Shaheen Afridi to restrict Afghanistan to a small total in a must-win game for them at Headingley in Leeds. Pakistan will have to chase down a target of 228 runs in their 50 over set by Afghanistan.

Afghanistan won the toss and opted to bat first saying that the wicket might slow down as the game progresses. Pakistan went in with the same XI while the Afghans made only one change bringing in Hamid Hassan. Gulbadin Naib and Rahmat Shah came out for the Blues and got off to a flier adding 27 runs in 4.4 overs before in-form Shaheen Afridi removed the dangerous looking Afghan skipper. Initially, not given out but Pakistan took the review and replays suggested a very faint edge if any. To make matters worse, Afridi got the better of Hasmatullah Shahidi in the next ball via a leading edge.

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Senior batsman Rahmat Shah then combined well with young batsman Ikam Ali Khil to lead the revival. But Imad Wasim used the conditions to great effect to dismiss Rahmat after a good start. Former skipper Asghar Afghan started to take the attack to the opposition playing a few shots. The duo added a vital 66 runs but once Asghar (42) got out, Pakistan capitalised on the opportunity to sneak in a few more wickets.

But Najibullah Zadran who has been their highest run-scorer so far in the World Cup, once again played a valuable knock to take the score over the 200-run mark. He chipped in with 42 runs from 54 deliveries including six boundaries to post a challenging total on the board. But Shaheen Afridi once again produced an outstanding effort to clean off the tail to restrict Afghanistan to 227 runs at the end of 50 overs.

The small targets have been tricky to chase in the World Cup so far and it will be an uphill task for Pakistan against Afghanistan bowling who has done well in the last two games.

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Ankush Das

I am an accountant by qualification, my parents thought their obedient son would study further to become a CA, but I had other things in mind. An ardent Cricket fan is following his passion and making...