The moment became ominous for Pakistan when Afghanistan turned a single into three runs early in the chase due to two overthrows. Shaheen Afridi’s first ball on the pads was clipped away for four. Haris Rauf’s introduction saw Rahmanullah Gurbaz play two consecutive cuts for four and an even more beautiful square drive.
There were early signs for those familiar with the Afghanistan opening pair that something special was about to happen.
In an ICC ODI World Cup match in Chennai on Monday, with an electric crowd of 21,500, Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran reached their fifties off 38 and 54 balls, respectively. They set Afghanistan on track to achieve their highest successful run chase in ODI cricket, scoring 283 runs and clinching their first-ever win over Pakistan in the format by eight wickets.
This was the second time in the tournament that Gurbaz and Zadran had a century partnership. The ball did not grip and turn as much under the lights as expected, which worked in their favor against spinners Shadab Khan and Usama Mir.
Gurbaz and Zadran had a partnership of 130 runs for the first wicket. Afridi dismissed Gurbaz for a 65-run score off 53 balls.
PAKISTAN VS AFGHANISTAN HIGHLIGHTS
The boundaries dried up after Gurbaz’s dismissal, but Zadran and Rahmat Shah kept rotating the strike to keep the asking rate under control. They added 60 runs for the second wicket before Zadran was caught behind off Hasan Ali after scoring 87 runs.
Pakistan’s bowlers strung together a few quiet overs, taking advantage of the lack of dew. However, Rahmat’s fifty off 58 balls calmed nerves and prevented any chance of a Pakistani comeback. Rahmat and Hashmatullah Shahidi remained unbeaten with a partnership of 96 runs, displaying a cool demeanor and excellent running between the wickets.
In the afternoon, Babar Azam won the toss and chose to bat. This was the perfect opportunity for Babar to showcase his skills.
In the scorching sun, Pakistan’s best batsman took the field amidst a loud reception. Babar cautiously reached his half-century off 69 balls. Shahidi used his spinners strategically to challenge Babar and create a mistake.
Babar played it safe against Rashid Khan, taking singles down the ground and using the bounce to play the cut shot when the line strayed outside off stump.
However, as the innings approached the final 10 overs, it became evident that Babar wanted to accelerate the scoring rate. Pakistan scored 56 runs in the first 10 overs, but could only manage 44 for 1 and 39 for 2 in the subsequent 10-over phases, largely due to off-spinner Mohammad Nabi’s disciplined bowling.
Nabi consistently landed the ball in the right areas, restricting Pakistan’s scoring rate. He ended with figures of 1 for 31. Nabi’s economical bowling allowed left-arm spinner Noor Ahmad to be more attacking. Ahmad, making his World Cup debut after replacing Fazalhaq Farooqi in the XI, took three wickets for 49 runs, including the crucial wicket of Babar.
The Pakistan captain has been struggling with his pull shots against spinners. He was caught at midwicket in the matches against the Netherlands and Australia. When facing Noor, Babar hit a short ball outside off straight to the cover fielder, prioritizing power instead of placement.
Noor had also dismissed Abdullah Shafique for 58 runs by trapping him lbw. He then had Mohammad Rizwan caught sweeping for eight runs. These dismissals were well-executed and planned. Noor bowled a wide off-stump delivery, forcing Rizwan to reach out for the sweep shot and miscue it to the fielder at short fine leg. Shafique was given out after review for missing the sweep and being struck in front by a fullish wrong’un on the leg stump.
Just when Pakistan’s batting seemed to be falling apart, Shadab and Iftikhar Ahmed’s counterattacking partnership of 73 runs off just 45 balls revived their innings.
PAKISTAN VS AFGHANISTAN SCORECARD
RR – 5.64 282/7 (50.0 OVS)
|Abdullah Shafiquelbw b Noor Ahmad||58||75||5||2||77.33|
|Imam-ul-Haqc Naveen-ul-Haq b Azmatullah Omarzai||17||22||2||0||77.27|
|Babar Azamc Mohammad Nabi b Noor Ahmad||74||92||4||1||80.43|
|Mohammad Rizwan (W)c Mujeeb Ur Rahman b Noor Ahmad||8||10||0||1||80|
|Saud Shakeelc Rashid Khan b Mohammad Nabi||25||34||3||0||73.52|
|Shadab Khanc Mohammad Nabi b Naveen-ul-Haq||40||38||1||1||105.26|
|Iftikhar Ahmedc Azmatullah Omarzai b Naveen-ul-Haq||40||27||2||4||148.14|
|Shaheen AfridiNot Out||3||3||0||0||100|
Extras 17 LB: 4, WD: 12, NB: 1
Total 282/7 (5.64 Runs Per Over)
Did Not Bat: : Usama Mir, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf,
Fall of Wickets: 1-56 (Imam-ul-Haq, 10.1 ov), 2-110 (Abdullah Shafique, 22.3 ov), 3-120 (Mohammad Rizwan, 24.4 ov), 4-163 (Saud Shakeel, 34 ov), 5-206 (Babar Azam, 41.5 ov), 6-279 (Iftikhar Ahmed, 49.2 ov), 7-282 (Shadab Khan, 50 ov)
|Mujeeb Ur Rahman||8||0||55||0||0||0||6.87|
RR – 5.84 286/2 (49.0 OVS)
|Rahmanullah Gurbazc Usama Mir b Shaheen Afridi||65||53||9||1||122.64|
|Ibrahim Zadranc Mohammad Rizwan b Hasan Ali||87||113||10||0||76.99|
|Rahmat ShahNot Out||77||84||5||2||91.66|
|Hashmatullah ShahidiNot Out||48||45||4||0||106.66|
Extras 9 LB: 0, WD: 8, NB: 1
Total 286/2 (5.84 Runs Per Over)
Did Not Bat: : Azmatullah Omarzai, Ikram Alikhil, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Naveen-ul-Haq, Noor Ahmad,
Fall of Wickets: 1-130 (Rahmanullah Gurbaz, 21.1 ov), 2-190 (Ibrahim Zadran, 33.3 ov)
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