Asia Cup Cricket

Shoaib Malik saves Pakistan against Lethal Afghanistan

A box office match comes to an end with a complete drama, a game which heats up the Asia Cup on the day one of super four round. The experience and class of the Malik worked for Pakistan and they won their game against Afghanistan by 3 wickets after losing badly to India in the last group match.

Afghanistan finished their first innings at 257 with the help of a remarkable inning of Hashmatullah (97) not out, who was in an integral part of their team to post a good total; he was equally helped by blistering innings of Asghar. Afghan captain played a pressure-free cricket and added 67 runs to the total of the team. After winning the toss and electing to bat first, Afghanistan started their innings brilliantly and both openers succeeded to see of Pakistan’s opening bowling attack, both given away their wickets to Muhammad Nawaz who was picked in the place of Shadab Khan for this game. After losing two quick wickets Afghanistan needed stability to their middle overs was well provided by Rahmat and Hashmatullah, both added 63 runs. When they were looking good and ready to pace up their innings captain Sarfraz brought back Nawaz to the strike and he provided him with a breakthrough when team needed very badly, Afghanistan lost their 3rd wicket at 94, Asghar Afghan joined Hashmatullah at the crease and he began his innings with a HUGE SIX over long on the first delivery he faced. Asghar and Hashmat added more 94 to the total; Asghar completed his 8th ODI and 1st fifty against Pakistan.

It was an excellent display of batting by them. It was a brilliant knock by Hashmatullah, his hitting towards the end of the innings was a notable thing. Although, he was bowled by Hasan Ali in the 49th over which was adjudged a no-ball by the third umpire, after getting a life he went insane in the last over against Usman. Talking about Pakistan’s bowling, Mohammad Nawaz finished with 57 for 3, Shaheen Shah Afridi was the pick of the lot as he produced a number of chances but ended up with only two scalps against his name.

At halfway stage, Afghanistan had some upper hand in the game as they have a quality bowling line-up and Pakistan is vulnerable in their batting line-up, as they were unable to showcase their talent in last two games of Asia Cup especially the last one against India, in which they were all out very cheaply. A worst possible start for team Pakistan and Fakhar Zaman, when he trapped in front of the wickets in the very first over of run-chase at a duck. Babar joined the Imam Ul Haq, both gave Pakistan stability in the run chase and put them in a strong position to make this run-chase an easy task, both put 154 runs for Pakistan at the second wicket. Pakistan kept their habit of making easy games into tough situation here at Abu Dhabi they did the same after being at 154 for 1 to 158 for 3, their both set batsmen were back to the pavilion, Imam (80) and Babar (66), after them Malik took over the charge, but Pakistan kept losing their wickets one after one, none of them, Haris, Sarfraz, Asif and Nawaz took the responsibility to remain calm and composed as Malik was. Everyone was in hurry to become the hero. It all went to the penultimate over when Rashid dismissed Nawaz and Hasan Ali came to the crease, he hit

SIX over the deep mid-wicket on the very first ball he faced of Rashid Khan eased pressure on Pakistan. Pakistan was in need of 10 runs in last over, which was due to be bowled by Aftab Alam, Malik had to face the first ball of 50th over, he tried but ball went to the hands of cover fielder, next delivery Aftab tried to ball a slower one, it became a half tracker for player who finished many games national and international level dispatched it out of the park and next ball was going towards legs of Malik, who smashed it for another four runs and Pakistan won the game by 3 wickets with 3 balls to spare. Rashid Khan, Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman the spin trio bowled really well for Afghanistan, it was their pace attack who given away 125 runs in their 19.3 overs, while spinners gave 139 runs in their 30 overs.

Player of the Match: Shoaib Malik the most senior batsman in the team, played a scintillating inning of 51 gets the player of the Match awards.

Shoaib Malik: “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. I would like to congratulate them. Every day they’ve been improving. I think they’re a great side.”

Smart scorecard:

Afghanistan 257/6 in 50 overs (Hashmatullah Shahidi 97, Asghar Afghan 67; Muhammad Nawaz 57/3)

Pakistan 258/7 in 49.3 overs (Imam Ul Haq 80, Babar Azam 66, Shoaib Malik 51*; Rashid Khan 46/3, Mujeeb Ur Rahman 33/2)

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