Pakistan vs Afghanistan, ICC T20 World Cup 2021: Pakistan narrowly survives Afghanistan scare from supreme power hitting by Asif Ali. Needing 24 runs in two overs, Pakistan’s lower order batter slammed four sixes in the 19th over to finish in style.
Unusual decision to bat first from Afghanistan captain, Mohammad Nabi at the toss. The decision was tactical rather than unusual as batting second is comparatively easy. Needless to say, batting first backed fire when Pakistan restricted them under 150 runs mark.
Although Afghanistan would be happy with the score, they were 15 runs short. Not a good start from an Afghan standpoint, losing Hazratullah Zazai(0) and Mohammad Shahzad(8) early. Gift for Pakistan we can say with the way the batter departed.
Picking up two wickets and only giving 26 runs, Imad Wasim was outstanding. His two overs spell at the start compressed Afghanistan to start under pressure and coming back in the middle overs continued that pressure.
after losing 4 wickets under powerplay, Karim Janat(15) and Najibullah Zadran(22) steadied the innings transmuting it towards recovery. Eventually falling against the spin of Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan.
The left-arm seamer, Shaheen Afridi was excellent at the start with a wicket and at the death giving nothing at all to the opponent. Along with him, Shadab Khan too was superb. His bowling figures were identical to that of Shaheen’s four overs 22 runs and a wicket.
The wicket seemed like settling down a bit when the Afghan skipper, Mohammad Nabi, and Gullabadin Naib started to run away. Their partnership of 71 was fruitful for their side leading Afghanistan to 147 just shy of 150.
The Player of the match awardee from the previous encounter against New Zealand was a bit too expensive in this particular outing. So was Hasan Ali. Both of them gave 37 and 38 respectively which aided Afghanistan to achieve the above target.
Losing Mohammad Rizwan in the third over from Mujeeb Ur Rahman’s floated delivery. Rizwan looking to slog sweep found Naveen-ul-Haq at the deep square leg boundary. Playing according to the situation, Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman stood tall to build a 63 runs stand.
The skipper into the attack and straight away trapped Fakhar who was found sweeping the ball. Hafeez too was dismissed three overs later only facing 10 balls and scoring equal runs. Babar didn’t panic at the other end, knowing their side had enough depth to see of this chase.
Although Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik were batting with confidence, Afghanistan were building pressure by increasing the required run rate. And then Rashid Khan struck gold with his quick googly cleaning up Pakistan skipper, Babar Azam.
The very next over, the match switched the momentum when Mohammad Shahzad caught behind Malik’s outside edge. Naveen-ul-Haq bowled a length outside off, Malik went with the shot failing to connect it in the end.
Afghanistan in the driving seat, controlling the match with 24 runs required for Pakistan from two overs. Nabi hand the most important over of the match to Karim Janat. Facing the over-under pressure was Asif Ali.
Scintillating hitting from Asif finished the match with six balls to spare. Four sixes in Karim’s over, Asif Ali shows his strength and capability for a finisher’s role.
That hitting concluded the game and got Asif Ali the Player of the Match award too. Pakistan sitting at the top of the group table with hat-trick wins against top teams. What remains for Pakistan is two encounters, one with Scotland and the other with Namibia.
Afghanistan on the other, are second in the group with a win against Scotland and now this loss. The match between India and New Zealand became a crucial one for the second spot.
Pakistan vs Afghanistan, ICC T20 World Cup 2021: post match presentation.
“Congratulation to the team and the fans for this win. The boundary was small from one end so I pre-planned with Shoaib Malik to target the bowler from that end. I assess the situation first and think about whose overs are left and then target them accordingly. I had a discussion with Shoaib Malik and was confident to score even 25 runs in one over.”
“We didn’t start well but still had a decent total on the board. My partnership with Gulabadin Naib was a good one and we had decided that 150 would be a good score. Three spinners are enough and Rashid Khan bowled at the right time but Asif Ali took the game away from us in the end. There are a lot of positives as we fought till the end.”
“The way we started with the ball was great and as planned, the bowlers got wickets. Feels that we gave away 10-15 runs extra in the end. We did not have an ideal powerplay with the bat but once again, the way Shoaib Malik and Asif Ali batted was commendable. Asif always has confidence in him and knows that Ali will get the team over the line in such situations. We strategized out bowling innings by keeping the dimensions of the ground in mind and praises the bowlers for sticking to the plans. Afghanistan have some quality spinners on their side and the pitch was assisting them so I panned to take the chase deep. I am disappointed that I could not finish the chase.”