Afghanistan announced their intentions of being more than mere pushovers as they stunned Pakistan by three wickets in a World Cup warm-up game that went to the wire. Young middle-order batsman Hashmatullah Shahidi played the role of sheet anchor to perfection with an unbeaten 74 as Afghanistan chased down a below-par target of 263 set by Pakistan with a couple of balls to spare. If the IPL stars Mohammed Nabi (3/46) and Rashid Khan (2/27) set it up by restricting Pakistan to well below 300, it was Shahidi’s composure that saw Afghanistan cross the finishing line despite some late hiccups.
Veteran Nabi after a good bowling performance also did his bit with the bat, scoring 34 off 41 balls, including three boundaries. Shahidi’s patient knock had seven fours and he played 102 balls. A lot of credit should also go to opener Hazrtullah Zazai for his 49 off 28 balls that had eight fours and two sixes. It was after Mohammed Shahzad retired hurt for 23. Zazai set the pace in the Powerplay overs which enabled Shahidi to deal in singles and occasional boundary as the Pakistan bowling looked pedestrian.
Mohammed Aamir (0/27 in 6 overs) didn’t get the ball to swing as most of his deliveries were seen angling across the right-handers while Wahab Riaz did bowl well at the death getting the ball to reverse. Earlier, when Pakistan batted, their no 1 batsman Babar Azam (112 off 108 balls) was the lone bright spot in an otherwise disappointing batting show as Nabi and Rashid choked the run-flow in the middle overs.
Brief Scores: Pakistan 262 in 47.5 overs (Babar Azam 112 off 108 balls, Shoaib Malik 44 off 59 balls, Mohammed Nabi 3/46 in 10 overs, Rashid Khan 2/27 in 9 overs)
Afghanistan 263 in 49.4 overs (Hazratullah Zazai 48 off 29 balls, Hashmatullah Shahidi 74 no off 102 balls, Mohammed Nabi 34 off 41 balls, Wahab Riaz 3/46).