Pakistan have broken through the jail surviving the big Afghan spin massacre while registering a 3-wicket victory over Afghanistan at the Headingley, Leeds. Pakistan left-arm fast bowler Shaheen Afridi bowled a terrific spell and was well supported by the likes of Imad Wasim and Wahab Riaz in restricting Afghanistan within a pretty modest first innings total.
But in the second innings, the Pakistan team made a merry-go round of the easy chase as they kept on giving away wickets on regular intervals to the Afghan spinners and that resulted the match turning into a see-saw battle. In the end, Imad played a brilliant unbeaten knock to help Pakistan pick up a jail-breaking win. With this victory, Pakistan have kept themselves alive in the tournament.
Afridi's superb four-wicket haul restricts Afghanistan to 227
After winning the toss and electing to bat first, the two Afghanistan openers, Rahmat Shah and skipper Gulbadin Naib came out in an aggressive mode, going after the Pakistan bowlers from the word go. But then new ball bowler Shaheen Afridi removed both Gulbadin and Hashmatullah Shahidi off successive deliveries and Imad Wasim plucked out Rahmat, to leave Afghanistan in trouble at 57 for 3. The duo of Asghar Afghan and Ikram Ali Khil steadied the things with a fine stand of 64 runs.
Wasim now along with his spin partner Shadab Khan halted Afghanistan's progress dismissing both the set batters in successive overs. Najibullah Zadran then contributed with a vital knock of 42 runs, however, after he got out, Afghanistan kept losing wickets at regular intervals and eventually managed to score just 227 runs in their quota of 50 overs.
For Pakistan, Shaheen Afridi was the pick of the bowlers, picking four crucial wickets. The pair of Wahab and Imad also bowled well to finish with two scalps each.
Imad’s vital knock helps Pakistan break out of jail
Chasing a nominal target of 228 runs, Pakistan got off to a poor start losing the wicket of opening batsman Fakhar Zaman in the very first over of the innings. The duo of Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam then bailed their team out of the troublesome situation with a fine partnership of 72 runs. Both Imam and Babar failed to convert their respective starts into bigger scores and got out with 81 runs on the board.
The pair of Mohammad Hafeez and Haris Sohail then tried to lead Pakistan to some sort of respite in the chase with a brief stand of 40 runs before the latter threw his wicket away. Haris and skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed also left the crease pretty soon, leaving Pakistan in a miserable position in the chase at 156 for 6. The Afghan spin troika of Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan once again bowled amazingly well to increase Pakistan’s troubles.
Towards the end, things got pretty tensed for Pakistan as the required run-rate quickly started rising. But then Imad Wasim played a vital unbeaten innings of 49 runs to guide Pakistan towards a nail-biting victory with just two balls to spare. For Afghanistan, Mujeeb and Nabi bagged two scalps each.
Afghanistan: 227/9 in 50 overs (Asghar Afghan-42, Najibullah Zadran-42; Shaheen Afridi 4/47, Wahab Riaz 2/29)
Pakistan: 230/7 in 49.4 overs (Imad Wasim-49*, Babar Azam-45; Mohammad Nabi 2/23, Mujeeb Ur Rahman 2/34)
Result: Pakistan have won the match by 3 wickets.