Asif Ali's four sixes in 19th over help Pakistan retain top spot in points table
Pakistan 148 for 5 (Babar 51, Zaman 30, Asif 25*, Rashid 2/26) beat Afghanistan 147 for 6 (Naib 35*, Nabi 35*, Imad 2/25) by five wickets
Both the sides have won their respective outings in the last games. Pakistan, on one hand, defeated New Zealand by 5 wickets following an exemplary show by the bowlers especially Haris Rauf who finished with 4/22. While on the other hand, Afghanistan registered a comprehensive victory over Scotland by 130 runs. Afghanistan boasts of some of the world’s best spin bowlers in the shortest format, Pakistan on the other hand swanks one of the best pacers on their side.
Interestingly, it's just the second time Pakistan and Afghanistan met each other in the T20Is at the Dubai International Stadium. Talking about their records in the UAE, both Afghanistan and Pakistan have played 13 games each at the venue since the 2016 T20 World Cup, and gone on win all 13 of them. Afghanistan skipper Mohammad Nabi won the toss and opted to bat first and put a good total against Pakistan.
Pakistan bowlers uproot Afghanistan’s top order
Opting to bat first, Afghanistan lost both its openers Hazratullah Zazai (0) and Mohammad Shahzad cheaply in the first three overs. And it looks like, Babar Azam’s formulae of starting the bowling with a pacer and spinner have proven to do wonders for Pakistan.
Starting with Shaheen Afridi, Babar Azam brought Imad Wasim into the attack in the 2nd over which got Pakistan the first break-through in the game. The second wicket of Afghanistan was also a part of Pakistan’s well-planned bowling strategy as Shaheen Afridi took down Mohammad Shahzad with a good length delivery that ended in Babar Azam’s hands.
Afghanistan’s nightmarish start continued as they attempted to pile up runs and yet lost regular wickets in the powerplay. Haris Rauf and Hasan Ali took the next two wickets as they dismissed Asghar Afghan and Rahmanullah Gurbaz for 10 runs each respectively. However, Afghanistan’s run-flow didn’t cease as they still managed 49/4 at the end of the powerplay. Although Pakistan bowlers had managed to put Afghanistan in the backseat by sending almost half their team back to the pavilion.
Afghanistan’s experienced batting duo subdue Pak bowlers
As Afghanistan looked to bounce back in the game, Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan struck and dismissed the set batters Karim Janat (15 runs) and Najibullah Zadran (22 runs). Afghanistan was reeling at 76/6 in 12.5 overs. However, the experienced skipper Mohammad Nabi and Gulbadin Naib resurrected the side’s innings and took the team total to 100 plus.
The duo scored 35 runs each and also stitched a 71-run partnership and took the team total to 147/6 in 20 overs. The duo put their experience into use and put up a competitive total against Pakistan.
Pakistan lose Rizwan early on
Just like their previous two matches, Pakistan had a contrasting start as they lost the in-form opener Mohammed Rizwan for 8 runs. Mohammad Nabi brought Mujeeb Ur Rahman in the powerplay and that proved to be useful for Afghanistan.
However, Afghanistan’s bowlers had to toil harder for the second wicket as skipper Babar Azam and this time Fakhar Zaman took control and sailed Pakistan’s innings at a brisk pace. Fakhar Zaman failed with the bat in the last game and took the charge to assault Afghanistan bowlers for runs all over the ground. He scored 30 runs off 25 deliveries that included two boundaries and a six.
He weaved a strong 4th wicket partnership of 63 runs and brought Pakistan into the driver’s seat during the chase. Unfortunately, he was dismissed leg before wicket by Mohammad Nabi in the 12th over as Afghanistan got its 2nd breakthrough of the game.
In between Afghanistan bowlers especially Mujeeb Ur Rahman barely conceded runs and mounted pressure on Pakistani batters. Rashid Khan and Naveen Ul-Haq banked on Mujeeb’s miserly spell and reduced Pakistan to 97/3 at 14.1 overs. Rashid Khan dismissed Mohammad Hafeez (10 runs), while Naveen-Ul-Haq dismissed Shoaib Malik (19 runs) within a span of three overs.
Rashid Khan further dismissed Pakistan skipper Babar Azam who scored 51 runs off 47 deliveries studded with four boundaries.
Asif Ali replicates his match-winning cameo
Pakistan needed 24 runs off the final two overs with Asif Ali and Shadab Khan on strike. But Asif Ali who showed tremendous prowess of his form against New Zealand was on the crease with chances still weighing in favour of Pakistan. Asif Ali ransacked Karim Janat for four sixes in the 19th overs and took the side home to a resounding victory by 5 wickets and six balls to spare.
Player of the match
Asif Ali was adjudged the player of the match for his audacious match-winning cameo, 25 runs off 7 balls. He pulled off exactly what Carlos Braithwaite did in the final over of the 2016 T20 World Cup finale. He hit four sixes to Karim Janat in 19th over. Ali emerges as the new finisher for Pakistan in the ongoing T20 World Cup tournament.
Facts and Stats
1) Rashid Khan became the fastest bowler to take 100 wickets in the T20I format.
T20Is: Rashid Khan - 53 matches
2) Rashid Khan is now the fourth-highest wicket-taker in T20I cricket. He is only behind:
- 117 Shakib
- 107 Malinga
- 100 Southee
3) Babar Azam became the fastest skipper to score 1000 runs in T20I cricket.
4) Pakistan have played 14 matches in the UAE since the 2016 T20I World Cup tournament and won all of them.
5) At the same time, Afghanistan’s 18-match winning streak in the UAE finally came to an end following the loss against Pakistan.
6) Asif Ali maintained a strike rate of 357.1 in his unbeaten 25-run knock against Afghanistan. It’s the third-highest in the history of the T20 World Cup and only behind:
- 414.3 Dwayne Smith (29 off 7) v Ban 2007
- 362.5 Yuvraj Singh (58 off 16) v Eng 2007
- 357.1 Asif Ali (25* off 7) v Afg 2021
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