On Friday, Pakistan stepped closer to their ticket to the ICC T20 World Cup after beating Afghanistan by 5-wickets. Despite Afghanistan’s tough fight, Pakistan managed to register their third win in succession in the most thrilling match of this edition of the tournament.
In the first innings, Afghanistan’s decision to bat first started to look backfiring as they ended up losing half of their wickets within the power-play. None of their top-order could stand the fierce bowling attack of the Pakistani bowlers.
However, the unbroken partnership between Mohammad Nabi and Gulbadin Naib brought them back into the game. Together they added 71 runs in the 7th wicket leading to a decent total of 147 runs from 76 for 6. Nabi remained unbeaten at 35 off 32 balls while Naib scored a 25-ball 35 not out.
The 148-run chase was not looking very promising after Pakistan lose Mohammad Rizwan at the very beginning of their innings. Nonetheless, Babar Azam’s responsible batsmanship laid the foundation of their victory in Dubai. Babar top-scored the match with his impressive 51-run innings off 47 balls.
After Babar’s dismissal by Rashid Khan (2 off 26), Fakar Zaman (30 off 25 balls) and Shoaib Malik (19 off 15 balls) held their nerve to give Pakistan leverage over Afghanistan. The match took a thrilling turn when in the 18th over Shoaib Malik was picked up by Naveen Ul-Haq who gave away only 2 runs in the over.
Pakistan needed 24 runs in the last two overs and Asif Ali single-handedly finished the match with one over remaining in hand. In the 19th over, Ali finished the match in style with four sixes in 7 balls while remaining not out at 25.
As the tournament is progressing, the team Pakistan is turning up to be more balanced and composed than ever. Talking about his performance, Man of the Match Asif remarked, “I would like to congratulate the Pakistan team and all our fans. I was confident of finishing it off from this end and that’s what I told Shoaib Malik before he got out. I look at the situation of the match, and I target the bowlers accordingly.”
Notably, in this match, captain Babar broke Virat Kohli’s record to become the fastest skipper to score 1000 runs in T20I after scoring his 22nd T20 half-century. At the same time, Afghanistan leg-spinner became the fastest bowler to pick up 100 wickets in T20I breaking Lasith Malinga’s record.
Pakistan will now face Namibia and Scotland in their last two matches of the Super 12 stage.
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