Thursday, February 2, 2023

India out of Asia Cup as Pak beat Afghanistan

Right-arm pacer Naseem Shah struck two telling sixes in the final over as Pakistan defeated Afghanistan by one wicket in a tense Asia Cup Super 4 match to throw India out of the tournament here on Wednesday.
Afghanistan were firmly in control of the match till the last over, reducing Pakistan to 118 for nine. But, Naseem had other plans as he hit Fazalhaq Farooqi for two consecutive sixes to send both Afghanistan and India out of reckoning for a final berth.
With two wins from as many games, both Pakistan and Sri Lanka have sealed their places in the final of the tournament to be held on Sunday. India and Afghanistan will lock horns in their final Super 4 match on Thursday, which has been rendered inconsequential.
Pakistan had a torrid time during their chase, losing skipper Babar Azam (0) early after being trapped LBW by Fazalhaq Farooqi (3/31).
To make matters worse, Fakhar Zaman (5) was run out in the first delivery of the fourth over, off a direct throw from Najibullah Zadran. Afghanistan got the upper hand when Rashid Khan (2/25) trapped in-form Mohammad Rizwan (20) in front of the wicket.
On the back foot after losing three key batters, Shadab Khan (36) took the attack to the opposition.
Fareed Ahmed (3/31) brought Afghanistan back into the match by breaking the dangerous-looking 45-run fifth-wicket stand between Iftikhar Ahmed (30) and Shadab.
But Shadab looked in ominous form as he slog-swept Rashid over the boundary to ease the pressure. However, Rashid had the last laugh as he dismissed Shadab in the next ball with the batter thick-edging one to Azmatullah Omarzai at short third man.
Two wickets in the 18th over bowled by Fazalhaq Farooqi tilted the balance of the match in Afghanistan’s favour .
With 11 needed from the final over, Naseem Shah showed his batting skills, smashing Fazalhaq Farooqi for back-to-back sixes to seal the match in Pakistan’s favour.
Earlier, Pakistan dished out a fine bowling display to restrict Afghanistan to a below-par 129 for six.
Afghanistan made a positive start with Hazratullah Zazai (21) and wicket-keeper Rahmanullah Gurbaz (17) sharing 36 runs for the opening wicket.
Zazai matched his partner by finding the boundary twice in the next over before Haris Rauf cleaned up Gurbaz in the fifth delivery of the fourth over.
Despite the fall of wicket, Zazai continued his attacking vein, hitting Hasnain for a boundary before perishing in the fifth delivery after the bowler castled him with a deceptive slower delivery.
Karim Janat (15) and Ibrahim Zadran (35 off 37) then tried to steady the ship.
Janat tried to force the pace of the innings but in vain as he was holed out by Fakhar Zaman off Mohammad Nawaz.
Najibullah Zadran (10) started his knock in a rollicking fashion, whipping Shadab Khan over deep midwicket before the spinner had the last laugh.
It became bad to worse for Afghanistan when Mohammad Nabi departed in the next ball. Ibrahim Zadran, however, continued to play his attacking shots but his knock was cut short by Rauf (2/26).
In the last over, Rashid Khan (18 not out) used his long handle to great effect and smashed Rauf for a six and a four to pick up 10 runs and take Afghanistan close to the 130-run mark.
Pakistan: 131 for 9 in 19.2 overs (Shadab Khan 36, Iftikhar Ahmed 30; Fazalhaq Farooqi 3/31, Fareed Ahmad 3/31, Rashid Khan 2/25) beat Afghanistan: 129 for 6 in 20 overs (Ibrahim Zadran 35; Haris Rauf 2/26) by 1 wicket.

Must Read