Asif Ali, the Man of Crisis, rescued Pakistan once again; this time with four humongous sixes in the penultimate over to beat Afghanistan by five wickets in an important game of the T20 World Cup 2021.
With this win, at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Pakistan have made it three in three in the ongoing T20 World Cup.
The 148-run chase was on until the sixteenth over when Shoaib Malik and Babar Azam were at the crease. Rashid Khan removed well-set Babar Azam on the final ball of his 4th over to hamper the chase. Pakistan required another 26 runs from the 18 balls and the last match heroes, Asif Ali and Shoaib Malik were at the crease.
However, a brilliant 18th over from Naveen ul Haq, who had earlier dropped Babar on the point, brought Afghanistan back in the game. Naveen gave away only two runs and took the most important wicket of Shoaib Malik who had sent Rashid for a big six in the previous over.
Pakistan began to falter in the chase, requiring 24 runs from the last 12 balls.
Riding on the confidence from the previous match, Asif Ali denied Shadab Khan a single on the last ball the 18th over to take the strike in the next over.
That was because he wanted to finish the game in the very over, as he later revealed in the post-match ceremony. (More on this later.)
Asif took advantage of the shorter boundaries at this end and sent Karim Janat for four massive sixes in an over to finish the game with six balls to spare.
He was chosen as the Man of the Match for his 7-ball 25 runs that changed the course of the game within the matter of six balls.
Afghan spinners, especially Mujeeb-ur-Rehman and Rashid Khan bowled brilliantly. Mujeeb bagged one wicket for 14 runs in his four overs, while Rashid made two scalps for 26 including that of Babar Azam.
Naveen ul Haq was another positive for Afghanistan with his one wicket and 22 runs in three overs.
Earlier, Afghanistan skipper Mohammad Nabi opted to bat first after winning the toss. His decision, however, wasn’t equally supported by the top order, as they lost the firsts five inside 10 overs.
A 71-run partnership between captain Mohammad Nabi and Gulbadin Naib help Afghanistan reach a fighting total of 147/6 in the first innings.
Nabi (35), Gulbadin Naib (35), and Najib Zadran (19) were the only notable contributors for Afghanistan with the bat.
Imad Waseem provided Pakistan with an early breakthrough in the second over as he removed the dangerous opener Hazratullah Zazai for zero.
Shaheen Shah Afridi struck in the next over to remove Mohammad Shahzad for 8, leaving Afghanistan two down for 13.
The wicket opened the gates for Pakistan bowlers who made regular inroads and removed half the Afghanistan side inside 10 overs.
Najib Zadran (21) looked to rebuild the innings with captain Mohammad Nabi (28), but fell to Shadab Khan.
Afghanistan were at 80/6 after 13 overs when Gulbadin Naib joined the captain in the middle.
The pair added a quick 71–run partnership to bring Afghanistan back on track. However, the four-run final over from Shaheen kept Afghanistan from crossing the psychological barrier of 150 runs.
Points Table Update: Pakistan sit well on top of the ladder with six points, followed by Afghanistan with two points.
Next Match: Pakistan will face Namibia in their fourth match of the ICC T20 World Cup on Tuesday.
Pakistan vs Afghanistan Highlights
Video courtesy: ICC T20 World Cup
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