Pakistan team is now just one win away to make it to semi-finals (Image Credit: Getty)
New Delhi :
Imad Wasim's 49 off 54 balls along with the brilliance of Shaheen Afridi helped Pakistan with a nail-biting three wicket win over inspiring Afghanistan at Headingley in Leeds. Chasing a stiff target of 227 runs, the men-in-green lost track in the middle overs and were slumped to 182 runs for the loss of six wickets. With 45 needed off 30 deliveries, Afghanistan was fancying their chances to register first win in the quadernnial tournament.
However, in the 46th over, Gulbadin Naib, skipper of Afghanistan took the bowling duties and was hammered for 18 runs which eventually changed the course of the game and significantly pulled Pakistan back into the game. Eventually, Pakistan registered their fourth win in the tournament and now are just a win-away to make it to the semi-finals.
Earlier in the day, Afghanistan opted to bat first after winning the toss but kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Despite starting well, they found themselves struggling at 57 runs for the loss of 3 wickets. Asghar Afghan counterattacked then and especially targetted wrist-spinner Shadab Khan. The former captain scored 42 runs and also strung a partnership of 64 runs with Ikram Ali Khil.
But Shadab itself got the better of Afghan and even Ikram lost his way to leave the team reeling at 125/5. However, Mohammad Nabi and Najibullah Zadran showed heart to build a partnership again. Just when things looked like going their way, Nabi top-edged a Wahab Riaz bouncer. But Najibullah didn’t lose heart and played a fighting knock of 42 runs only to get out in the 45th over.
Afghanistan couldn’t get the final flourish and could only reach 227 runs for the loss of 9 wickets after 50 overs. But they managed to make a thrilling game out of it and made Pakistan earn each and every run.
In response, Fakhar Zaman and Imam Ul Haq started the proceeding for Pakistan. However, former's stay at the wicket didn't last long as Mujeeb Ur Rahan trapped the left-hander right in front to provide Afghanistan a dazzling start. Fakhar's departure led Babar Azam to the crease, who continued his sensational run and strung a partnership of 72 runs with Imam Ul Haq.
However, just when Pakistan looked to take the game away from Afghanistan, Mohammad Nabi sent the duo back to the pavilion in space of two overs. Eventually the middle order was exposed and Pakistan were six down for 156 runs. Imam and Shadab continued to believe in their skills and took the side close to victory. Shadab got run out in 47th over but Wahab Riaz, who was playing the game with a fractured finger showed intent to register an unbeaten winning partnership of 21 runs with Imad Wasim, which eventually helped team to cross winning line with two balls to spare.