JUNE 29, 2019
Brief Scorecard: Pakistan 230 for 7 (Imad 49*, Babar 45, Nabi 2-23, Mujeeb 2-34) beat Afghanistan 227 for 9 (Asghar 42, Najibullah 42, Afridi 4-47, Wahab 2-29) by three wickets
LEEDS – Pakistan secured a nervy three-wicket win over Afghanistan to leapfrog England into fourth – and the final semi-final spot – ahead of the World Cup hosts’ penultimate group game against India on Sunday.
Afghanistan threatened to pull off a remarkable upset, reducing Pakistan to 156-6 when chasing 228 to win, but a crucial 49 not out from Imad Wasim – who survived an lbw shout when on one which would have been given out if reviewed – helped see Pakistan home, and ahead of England.
Afghanistan’s spinners were superb at Headingley, sharing five of the seven wickets to fall. Rashid Khan took 1-50 from his 10 overs, though replays showed he should have picked up a vital second in the 37th over.
Rashid appealed loudly for lbw against Imad but it was not given by umpire Paul Wilson and, as Afghanistan had earlier wasted their DRS review, the Pakistan all-rounder survived.
Imad cashed in on a 46th over of seam, taking Gulbadin Naib for 18, and though Shadab Khan was run out in the 47th – the second Pakistan run out of the day – he stuck around and cracked the match-winning boundary through the covers with two balls to spare.
Earlier, Shaheen Afridi again impressed for Pakistan, the 19-year-old left-arm quick following up his 3-28 in the win over New Zealand with 4-47 to help restrict Afghanistan to 227-9.
Rahmat Shah (35) batted nicely at the top of the order, leading the recovery after Gulbadin (15) and Hashmatullah Shahidi were dismissed off consecutive deliveries by Afridi.
After a leading edge off Imad (2-48) did for Rahmat, Asghar Afghan (42 off 35) then provided the impetus, striking three boundaries and two sixes before being brilliantly bowled by Shadab (1-44) when attempting one shot too many.
Asghar had been ably – if slowly – partnered by 18-year-old wicketkeeper Ikram Alikhil (24 off 66), who was next to fall, seeing Afghanistan slip to 125-5 in the 27th over and in danger of not batting out their full fifty.
Najibullah Zadran added a useful 42 to help lift Afghanistan over 200 but, with Afridi and Wahab Riaz (2-29) working their way through the lower order, a late scoring surge never arrived at the back-end of the Afghanistan innings.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman (2-34) picked up Fakhar Zaman lbw for a second-ball duck in the opening over of Pakistan’s reply, but an upset looked far from likely as Imam-ul-Haq (36) and Babar Azam (45) shared an assured 72-run stand for the second wicket.
However, brain fades from both saw Mohammad Nabi (2-23) dismiss the set batsmen in consecutive overs – Imam smartly stumped by Ikram and Babar bowled round his legs.
Mohammad Hafeez (19) was next to fall, while Haris Sohail (27) and Sarfaraz Ahmed (18) didn’t make Afghanistan pay too greatly for earlier missed chances to earn their wickets – Haris getting a let-off as umpire Nigel Long failed detect an edge down the legside when on 17, while Sarfaraz was dropped on two by Samiullah Shinwari off his own bowling.
Rashid eventually did for Haris lbw, but crucially he wasn’t given a second when striking Imad on the pads with an almost identical delivery in his next over.
Afghanistan stay winless, with one final game to come against the West Indies – back at Headingley on Thursday – while Pakistan will be hoping India do them a favour against England on Sunday, as a defeat for the hosts will put Pakistan in the driving seat for qualification from the group stage going into their final game against Bangladesh on Friday.
Courtesy/Source: Sky Sports