Mirpur (Bangladesh), Mar 3: Smiling ear to ear after upstaging arch-rivals India in the Asia Cup, Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq lavished praise on Shahid Afridi for his “sensible” cameo, saying that the flamboyant all-rounder single-handedly clinched a game which had gone out the team’s grasp.
“I am very happy about Shahid Afridi, who has taken a lot of criticism in the last two matches. I think he showed experience and won us a game that almost went out of our control,” the skipper said after the nail-biting one-wicket win here.
In pursuit of 246, Pakistan were on course with Mohammad Hafeez’s sparkling 75 but after the partnership was broken, they looked shaky before Afridi worked his magic in the end.
“In my opinion, this was a very important win. We were under pressure with four wickets down but Hafeez and Sohaib Maqsood put together a partnership,” Misbah said.
“After that, Afridi finished the game in the way he did. We have been criticised for not being able to chase well under pressure. But today we have shown that we can do it. The confidence of the team will be boosted. We expect innings like that from him. Whenever he gives time in the middle and play sensibly, he can be very dangerous. He already did it quite few times, and this was one of his best innings,” he added.
“I think that time the game was in our hands in the second last over but after that it was quite difficult. Still, we knew that if Afridi can get strike back we will have a chance. He played very well. The last two sixes were tremendous.”
But before the match-winning sixes, Afridi seemed to have blundered by crossing over to get away from the strike when Mohammad Talha was dismissed off the last ball of the penultimate over. With Afridi at the other end, Pakistan needed 10 runs from five balls with one wicket in hand but last man Junaid Khan did the sensible thing of taking a single to give the all-rounder the strike to finish it off.
The Pakistani skipper also praised debutant Mohammad Talha who scalped 2/22 from seven overs and said he was their surprise package.
“We just brought Talha back, kept him fresh, didn’t play him in the first two games. We wanted to use him as a surprise package. He did well on debut against India, in such a huge pressure game. He bowled well, like he did in the Sharjah Test, which was also a pressure game.”
Pakistan will take on Bangladesh in their last league match and he said their job is not yet done as they would have to win to make the final. “I am not sure what the situation is but if we reach the final it will be good for us to be in the successive finals. We will try to play well in our next game and go for the title.”
Misbah said the team would not underestimate Bangladesh — a team low on morale after losing to debutantes Afghanistan but bolstered by the return of all-rounder Shakib-al-Hasan after a three-match suspension. “I think one of their main player has come back. He was missing in the first two games. They are a good side in their own conditions. We are not relaxed, we will do our basics right and try to win that game.”