Naseem Shah’s two sixes on first two balls of the last over snatched victory from Afghanistan and helped Pakistan secure a birth in the final of the Asia Cup 2022 and send India packing in a low-scoring thriller.
Afghanistan had scored paltry 129 runs in their 20 overs after being asked to bat first by Pakistan skipper Babar Azam.
The match appeared to be in the bag after Afghanistan were restricted to 129, however, Mohammad Nabi and Co. gave the Green Shirts a run for their money with their exceptional bowling.
Pakistan lost Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam in the first six overs and when they lost in-form Mohammad Rizwan at the end of the ninth over with just 48 runs on the board, it seemed that the team was in trouble.
Afghanistan’s bowlers continued piling up the pressure but Iftikhar Ahmed and Shadab Khan’s 42-run partnership helped ensure that by the end of the 16th over, the target came within reach.
The tide turned in Afghanistan’s favour after the partnership was broken and Pakistan lost quick wickets cheaply.
In the last two overs, Pakistan needed 21 off 12 balls and had just three wickets in hand. In the 19th over, Fareed Ahmad took two wickets, including the crucial wicket of Asif Ali.
At the end of his over, Pakistan needed 11 off six balls and just had their numbers 10 and 11 — Naseem and Mohammad Hasnain — on the crease.
However, Naseem’s two sixes from the first two balls of the 20th over helped Pakistan snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The one-wicket win meant that Pakistan will now take on Sri Lanka in the final of the Asia Cup.
Afghanistan were off to a flying start and looked set to set a big score once their openers started to hit the ball over the park.
However, Haris Rauf dismissed the explosive Rahmanullah Gurbaz in the fourth over and Mohammad Hasnain removed Hazratullah Zazai to stem the flow of runs.
Once the openers were dismissed, Babar brought in Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab who put pressure on Afghanistan with their tight bowling.
The pressure eventually got to Karim Janat and Ibrahim Zadran who were struggling to middle the ball. In the 12th over, Nawaz dismissed Janat to put Afghanistan three down.
From then on, regular dismissals of batsmen and tight bowling by the Men in Green put Afghanistan in check.
It was only two boundaries by Rashid Khan in the last over that pushed Afghanistan’s total to 129-6.
Haris ended up with two wickets while Nawaz, Shadab, Hasnain, and Naseem took one wicket each.
For Afghanistan, Ibrahim Zadran was their highest run scorer who ended up with 35 runs off 37 balls.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (capt), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain
Afghanistan: Mohammad Nabi (capt), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Hazratullah Zazai, Ibrahim Zadran, Najibullah Zadran, Karim Janat, Rashid Khan, Azmatullah Omarzai, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Fareed Ahmad, Fazalhaq Farooqi