SPORTS BULLETIN REPORT
Sharjah (UAE):-Asif Ali had struck Karim Janat for four sixes in the penultimate over of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 to earn Pakistan an unlikely five wickets victory over Afghanistan. 11 months later, No.10 batter Naseem Shah almost did the same when he clubbed the first two deliveries of the 20th over by Fazalhaq Farooqi for maximums to snatch victory for Pakistan from the jaws of defeat and put his side in the final of the ACC T20 Asia Cup.
Pakistan, chasing 130 for victory, had needed 11 runs in the last over with the last pair at the crease. But Naseem turned the match on its head when he hit Fazalhaq, the most successful Afghanistan bowler who returned figures of three for 31, for two straight sixes to not only earn Pakistan victory by one wicket but also send Afghanistan and India packing from the tournament.
Pakistan wobbled at the top of the innings when they slumped to 45 for three. But Iftikhar Ahmed (30) and Shadab Khan (36) added 42 runs to put them back on track. However, Iftikhar’s departure opened all floodgates as Pakistan slipped to 118 for nine by losing six wickets for 31 runs, including the scalp of Asif Ali (16).
But Naseem had other ideas and proved that it’s not over until it is over. Naseem has had a memorable start to his T20I debut when he overcame cramps to take two India wickets on his debut in Dubai on 28 August and 11 days later, excelled with the bat to produce one of the most thrilling and exciting finishes in the history of the shortest format of the game.
Pakistan’s victory means Thursday’s match between Afghanistan and India, and Friday’s fixture between Pakistan and Sri Lanka are now irrelevant, though Pakistan and Sri Lanka will treat this to earn psychological advantage ahead of the final.
Earlier, after putting Afghanistan into bat and conceding 37 runs in the first 24 balls, Pakistan bowlers roared back strongly and choked their opponents with accurate, intelligent and quality bowling by conceding 92 in the remaining 96 balls as Afghanistan finished at 129 for six in 20 overs. This included 10 runs in Haris Rauf’s last over his Lahore Qalandars’ teammate clubbed him for a six and four to finish with 18 not out off 15 balls.
After a flying start, Afghanistan batters’ strategy to take on the highly-talented skillful bowler badly backfired as they collapsed like a house of cards, slipping from 78 for two to 104 for six before finishing at 129 for six. Such was the dominance of the Pakistan bowlers that Afghanistan batters scored 57 in the last 10 overs after spiriting to 72 for two at the halfway stage.
Ibrahim Zadran finished as the top-scorer with 35, while opener Hazratullah Zazai contributed 21. Captain Mohammad Nabi earned a first-ball duck in his 100th T20I when he was bowled by Naseem Shah (one for 19).
Haris Rauf was the most successful bowler with two for 26, but it was the spin duo of Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan who mesmerised Afghanistan batters with their guile. Nawaz conceded 23 runs in his four overs and picked up the wicket of Karim Janat (15), Shadab Khan avenged Najibullah Zadran for hitting him for the first six in the tournament to end with one for 27.
Mohammad Hasnain deceived Zazai with a slower one to finish with one for 34.
Scores in brief:
Pakistan beat Afghanistan by one wicket
Afghanistan 129-6, 20 overs (Ibrahim Zadran 35, Hazratullah Zazai 21; Haris Rauf 2-26)
Pakistan 131-9, 19.2 overs (Shadab Khan 36, Iftikhar Ahmed 30, Mohammad Rizwan 20, Asif Ali 16; Fazalhaq Farooqi 3-31, Fareed Ahmed 3-31, Rashid Khan 2-25)
Player of the match – Shadab Khan (Pakistan)