Chennai, Oct 23 (UNI) After the spinners came to the fore, the top order batsmen made a mincemeat of a big total, as Afghanistan, powered by half centuries by the top three batsmen–a first in World Cup and second in its ODI history-created history, stunning Pakistan by eight wickets in a memorable night at the M.A.Chidambaram Stadium here tonight.
Replying to Pakistan’s 282 for 7, which was largely made due to half centuries by two order batsmen and a late burst in the final five overs–after a steady start and a mild wobble in the middle–the
Afghanistan batsmen, were never under any pressure, and crossed over the finishing line with consummate ease, finishing at 286 for two with six balls to spare.
Afghans got a rousing start with openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz dominating the experienced and solid Pakistan attack with a fiery 53-ball 65 (9×4, 1×6) and man of the match Ibrahim Zadran (87, 113 balls, 10×4) adding 130 for the first wicket in 21.1 overs.
After Ibrahim fell, the chase was consolidated by Rahmat Shah (77, 84 balls, 5×4, 2×6) and skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi (48 not ou8t, 45 balls, 4×4), who handled his spinners in a judicious manner earlier, and fittingly hit the winning boundary, as Afghanistan overhauled the huge total with an over to spare.
This was the second win for Afghanistan after their stunning and upset win over England earlier in the league phase, which is expected to morale their boost in the remaining encounters to entertain any chances of making it to the last four.
This was Pakistan’s first loss (third in succession in this edition) against its neighbours in eight meetings as neither of their spinners or their famed pace battery led by left armer Shaheen Shah Afridi, literally made no impact on the Afghan batsmen, who made merry with a controlled run chase.
The victory marked a massive day in Afghanistan cricket as they beat Pakistan for the first time, and on the way romped to their highest successful chase in ODIs.
Afghanistan’s were well on the course of victory, as right from the start they were ahead of the Pakistan score on a wicket which they made batting look easy.
Earlier, batting first, Pakistan’s innings was anchored by half centuries by opener Abdullah Shafique (58, 75 balls, 5×4, 2×6) and skipper Babar Azam (74, 92 balls, 4×4, 1×6) before Iftikhar Ahmed’s blitzkrieg in the last five overs, scoring 40 runs in 27 balls–punctuated with with four sixes and two fours–powered Pakistan to a total that eventually proved inadequate and was easily overhauled by Afghanistan, without much ado and in a non-chalant manner.
For Afghanistan left arm wrist bowler picked as the fourth spinner was the main wicket taker claiming three wickets for 49, scalping the key wickets of Abdullah, in form Mohd Rizwan (8) and Babar Azam, who fell in the final power play after holding the innings together, when the spinners kept the Pakistan batsmen on tight leash and checked the flow of runs.
The start of the chase for Afghanistan was breezy as runs flowed like a cascade and the Pakistan bowlers were clueless to arrest the run flow. The openers added 130 in 21.1 overs scoring freely, and another 60-run association followed between Ibrahim and Rahmat in just 11.2 overs for the second wicket, before Rahmat and the skipper added 96 for the unbroken third wicket in 15.3 overs to complete a famous win for Afghans.