Twitter Reactions: Shoaib Malik pulls off a thriller against Afghanistan

Shoaib Malik
Shoaib Malik

The Asia Cup 2018 was filled with one-sided encounters. But the Pakistan-Afghanistan game proved to be an exception. It went right down to the wire and could have been any one’s game until the last over. The experienced Shoaib Malik kept his nerves and drew Pakistan out of jail to win the match.

Pakistani bowlers made a good start in the game by bagging 2 early wickets, after Afghanistan batted first after winning the toss. Rahmat Shah got out after scoring a decent 36. The Afghans were in a slight spot of bother at 94/3 in the 26th over.

The skipper Asghar Afghan combined well with Hashmatullah Shahidi and the duo bailed the side out of trouble. Asghar opted for the aggressive approach while Shahidi stood firm. They added 94 runs for the 4th wicket before Asghar departed for 67 off 56 balls courtesy the debutant Shaheen Afridi.

Shahidi took matters into his own hands and accelerated in the slog overs. Afghanistan scored 87 runs in the last 10 overs to reach 257/6. Shahidi stayed unbeaten at 97 off 118 balls. There was a moment in the final over when he looked to retain the strike in order to achieve 3 figures. That cost the side a couple of runs which, in the hindsight, proved costly.

Pakistan lost Fakhar Zaman for a duck in the first over to Mujeeb Ur Rahman. It was a huge blow considering the kind of form Fakhar has been in. But from then on, Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam built a solid platform. The duo added 154 runs for the 2nd wicket before Imam was run-out for 80 in the 34th over.

Babar also departed 2 overs later when Rashid Khan well and truly brought his side back into the game. Shoaib Malik and Haris Sohail added 36 runs before the latter was removed by Mujeeb. The situation was getting tense out there when the required rate kept creeping up.

Shoaib Malik kept his cool

Pakistan lost 3 more wickets in the process as Sarfaraz Ahmed, Asif Ali and Mohammad Nawaz fell under pressure. Rashid tried his best and bowled the penultimate over to keep it to 10 runs from the final over. Malik was still at the crease and he was patient.

Aftab Alam came on to bowl the last over and bowled a crucial dot ball first up. But Malik was unflustered and smacked the next ball for six over square leg. It had to be the Men in Green with 4 needed from 4. The experienced batsman didn’t waste any time and sent the ball to the rope to seal the game. He made 51 not out from 43 balls as Pakistan won the match by 3 wickets.

Match Summary

Afghanistan won the toss and opted to bat first

Afghanistan: 257/6 in 50 overs

Hashmatullah Shahidi 97* (118), Asghar Afghan 67 (56)

Mohammad Nawaz 57/3 (10), Shaheen Afridi 38/2 (10)

Pakistan: 258/7 in 49.3 overs

Imam-ul-Haq 80 (104), Babar Azam 66 (94)

Rashid Khan 46/3 (10), Mujeeb Ur Rahman 33/2 (10)

Pakistan won by 3 wickets

Player of the Match: Shoaib Malik


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