Malik thwarts giantkillers Afghanistan in last over finish

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Pakistan's Hasan Ali (left) celebrates with Shoaib Malik after Pakistan pulls off a last over victory over Afghanistan.

DUBAI — Experienced batsman Shoaib Malik hit a six and a boundary to pull off a sensational last over three wicket win for Pakistan against a spirited Afghanistan in the Asia Cup in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

Malik pulled the second ball of the final over by paceman Aftab Alam over the deep square leg boundary and then whacked the next to deep fine leg for a boundary as Pakistan pulled off a nerve-wracking win in 49.3 overs at Sheikh Zayed Stadium.

Pakistan, cashing a stiff 258-run target, were home and dry to start the Super Four Stage with a much needed win and now face arch rivals India in Dubai on Sunday.

Hashmatullah Shahidi missed out on a maiden hundred by a mere three runs but still steered Afghanistan to a challenging 257-6.

Pakistan were off to a disastrous start when opener Fakhar Zaman was trapped leg-before off the sixth ball of the innings by spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman for nought.

Imam-ul-Haq scored a 104-ball 80 with five boundaries and a six while Babar Azam knocked an attractive 94-ball 66 with four boundaries and a six during their innings repairing the 154-run stand for the second wicket.

But both fell within the space of four runs as spinner Rashid Khan (3-46) brought Afghanistan back in the game with the asking rate getting stiffer, as Pakistan needed 42 off the final five overs.

Despite losing skipper Sarfraz Ahmed (eight), Asif Ali (seven) and Mohammad Nawaz (ten), Malik kept his cool to stop Afghanistan from posting their third straight win after beating Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the first round.

Earlier, Shahidi hit three consecutive boundaries in the final over off Usman Shinwari, but failed to get to three figures off the last delivery after Afghanistan won the toss and batted.

Shahidi finished with a brilliantly-paced 118-ball 97 not out, and added 94 for the fourth wicket with his skipper Asghar Afghan, who smashed five sixes and two fours in his 56-ball 67.

But it was Shahidi who held one end against Pakistan's bowling in an innings which featured seven boundaries after left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz (3-57) had put the brakes on Afghanistan's early progress.

Shahidi had added 63 for the third wicket with Rahmat Shah who scored a measured 36.

The total is an improvement by Afghanistan after scoring 249 and 255 in their previous two wins against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Pakistani fielders dropped four catches — three off debutant paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi who finished with 2-38.

India beat Bangladesh by seven wickets in Dubai and now meet Pakistan on Sunday, also in Dubai. Afghanistan and Bangladesh meet in Abu Dhabi on the same day.

Top two teams from the Super Four Stages will play the final in Dubai on Sept. 28. — AFP

Scoreboard

Afghanistan

Mohammad Shahzad c Sarfraz b Nawaz 20

Ihsanullah Janat c and b Nawaz 10

Rahmat Shah c and b Nawaz 36

Hashmatullah Shahidi not out 97

Asghar Afghan b Shaheen 67

Mohammad Nabi c Hasan b Shaheen 7

Najibullah Zadran b Hasan 5

Gulbadin Naib not out 10

Extras: (lb2, nb2, w1) 5

Total: (for six wkts; 50 overs) 257

Did not bat: Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Aftab Alam

Fall of wickets: 1-26 (Ihsanullah), 2-31 (Shahzad), 3-94 (Shah), 4-188 (Asghar), 5-200 (Nabi), 6-212 (Najibullah).

Bowling: Shinwari 10-1-58-0 (1nb), Shaheen 10-0-38-2, Nawaz 10-1-57-3, Malik 4-0-21-0, Sohail 6-0-30-0, Hasan 10-0-51-1 (1nb, 1w).

Pakistan

Fakhar Zaman lbw b Mujeeb 0

Imam-ul-Haq run out 80

Babar Zaman st Shahzad b Rashid 66

Haris Sohail c Ihsanullah b Mujeeb 13

Shoaib Malik not out 51

Sarfraz Ahmed b Naib 8

Asif Ali c Alam b Rashid 7

Mohammad Nawaz b Rashid 10

Hasan Ali not out 6

Extras: (b2, lb2, w13) 17

Total: (for seven wkts; 49.3 overs) 258

Did not bat: Usman Shinwari, Shaheen Shah

Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Zaman), 2-154 (Imam), 3-158 (Azam), 4-194 (Sohail), 5-216 (Sarfraz), 6-226 (Asif), 7-242 (Nawaz)

Bowling: Mujeeb 10-2-33-2 (3w) Alam 9.3-1-64-0 (4w) Naib 10-0-61-1 (3w), Nabi 10-0-50-0 (1w), Rashid 10-0-46-3 (2w)


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