Pakistan beats Afghanistan by 1 wicket in a thrilling encounter
Pakistan pulled off a stunning victory over Afghanistan in the second ODI of the three-match series in Hambantota on Thursday. Chasing a target of 301, Pakistan was reduced to 254/9 in the 47th over, but a heroic partnership of 48 runs between Shadab Khan and Haris Rauf sealed the win for the visitors with one ball to spare.
Afghanistan posts a challenging total
Afghanistan won the toss and elected to bat first on a flat pitch. The openers, Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran, gave a solid start to the innings, adding 71 runs for the first wicket. Gurbaz was the aggressor, scoring 45 off 36 balls with seven fours and a six. Zadran was more sedate, but he anchored the innings with a patient 83 off 112 balls.
The middle order also contributed well, with Riaz Hassan (52), Hashmatullah Shahidi (46), and Mohammad Nabi (40) chipping in with valuable runs. Rashid Khan provided the finishing touch with a quickfire 28 off 14 balls, as Afghanistan reached 300/5 in their allotted 50 overs.
Pakistan’s bowling was lackluster, with only Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf taking two wickets each. The spinners, Shadab Khan and Usama Mir, were expensive and went wicketless.
Pakistan’s chase falters after a strong start
Pakistan’s chase got off to a flying start, as Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq put on 92 runs for the first wicket in just 14 overs. Zaman was in sublime form, smashing 68 off 50 balls with nine fours and two sixes. Imam was more cautious, but he also played some elegant shots en route to his 70 off 87 balls.
However, Afghanistan fought back with their spin trio of Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Rashid Khan, and Mohammad Nabi. Mujeeb dismissed Zaman and Babar Azam in quick succession, while Rashid accounted for Imam and Iftikhar Ahmed. Nabi also chipped in with two wickets, as Pakistan lost six wickets for 77 runs.
The lower order tried to keep the chase alive, with Agha Salman (22) and Shadab Khan (48*) playing some crucial knocks. However, Afghanistan kept taking wickets at regular intervals, and Pakistan was staring at defeat when they needed 47 runs off the last four overs with only one wicket in hand.
Shadab Khan and Haris Rauf script a sensational win
The match seemed to be over when Haris Rauf joined Shadab Khan at the crease. Rauf had scored only one run in his previous ODI innings and was not known for his batting prowess. However, he surprised everyone with his calmness and composure under pressure.
He supported Shadab Khan well, rotating the strike and hitting the occasional boundary. Shadab Khan was also brilliant, playing some audacious shots and keeping his nerve till the end. The duo brought down the equation to 16 runs off the last over, which was bowled by Rashid Khan.
Rauf hit the first ball for a four through midwicket, followed by a single. Shadab Khan then hit a six over long-on, bringing the scores level. He took a single off the next ball, leaving Rauf to face the last ball with one run needed. Rauf kept his cool and flicked the ball to fine leg for another four, sparking wild celebrations in the Pakistan camp.
Pakistan won the match by one wicket and took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series. Shadab Khan was named the player of the match for his match-winning knock of 48 not out off 35 balls .
The third and final ODI of the series will be played on Saturday at R.Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. Afghanistan will look to salvage some pride and end the series on a high note, while Pakistan will aim to complete a clean sweep and boost their confidence ahead of the Asia Cup
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