Afghanistan beat Pakistan by 8 wickets with 6 balls to spare in a historic run chase at Chennai
Afghanistan added Noor Ahmad to their playing XI in place of Fazalhaq Farooqi, making it four spinners overall while with outstanding cameos from Shadab Khan and Iftikhar Ahmed, Pakistan managed to register a strong 282 for 7 and chasing the target, Shahidi and Rahmat never once gave Pakistan a sniff as they put on 96 unbroken runs for the third wicket.
Pakistan had won the toss and decided to bat first. The Chennai pitch was the same as the one used for India’s match against Australia, Afghanistan added Noor Ahmad to their playing XI in place of Fazalhaq Farooqi, making it four spinners overall.
The opening ten overs saw Pakistan reach 56 for no loss, their greatest power play in the ten innings at the World Cup. During these ten overs, Abdullah Shafique smashed two sixes, marking another first — and second. The first was Pakistan’s first after 1169 balls in power play this year.
With runs being leaked by both Naveen-ul-Haq and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Pakistan had actually reached their 50 in 7.4 overs.
At this point, Shahidi turned to Mohammad Nabi, and the veteran stopped the run-scoring with his effective pace and length variations. At the other end, this helped Azmatullah Omarzai when Imam-ul-Haq misplayed a pull to short midwicket.
The innings was led by Babar and Shafique, with Shafique quickly hitting his second successive fifty off 60 balls. But as the ball became older and the surface a little more worn down, it began to perform a few more tricks.
Pakistan managed two fours and a six between the 16th and 31st overs, scoring 61 runs but lost two crucial wickets in the process. Noor delivered the decisive strikes to both.
He dismissed Shafique lbw first, then Mohammad Rizwan, with a wrong’un. Babar took 69 balls to get to fifty before losing to Noor for 74.
At 206 for 5 at the end of 42 overs, Pakistan was struggling to reach a par score. However, the script was changed by Shadab and Iftikhar.
The two completely destroyed the Afghanistan bowlers’ dismal final-ball display, scoring 73 off just 45 balls. With outstanding cameos from Shadab Khan and Iftikhar Ahmed, Pakistan managed to register a strong 282 for 7
Gurbaz picked Shaheen Shah Afridi to the fine-leg boundary to set up Afghanistan’s chase, and three balls later, Ibrahim drove Afridi through the covers. Afghanistan accelerated to sixty after nine overs when Gurbaz hit Haris Rauf for four fours in his opening over, while Ibrahim sent Hasan Ali to the cleaners.
Afghanistan reached the 100-run in just 15.3 overs. By that time, Ibrahim and Gurbaz were both in their fifties. Afridi forced a top edge off Gurbaz’s blade, which was caught by deep third, to result in Pakistan’s first wicket in the 22nd over.
No panic stations, though. Rahmat entered and he began working diligently as always. Every time there was a line of dot balls, Rahmat or Ibrahim used a boundary to break the bonds. For the second wicket, they made 60 runs off 74-balls before Ibrahim, battling cramping, edged Hasan for 87.
Shahidi and Rahmat soon put an end to any ideas of a collapse or even a few quick wickets. They never once gave Pakistan a sniff as they put on 96 unbroken runs for the third wicket. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the chase was how calmly they conducted themselves.
Rahmat was unbeaten at 77 after hitting five fours and a six, but Shahidi hit a 48* off 45 balls. The captain scored the game-winning run with a pull/flick off Afridi, setting up tearful scenes in the dugout.
Hashmatullah Shahidi, the Afghanistan Captain:
“This win tastes nice. The way we chased today was very professional. We have been quality cricket from a couple of years. We will try our best to play positive cricket, and do a lot for our country. Today bowling was very good, especially spin bowling. We gave a chance to Noor, and he showed… The game was in our hands from the beginning till the end.”
Babar Azam, the Pakistan Captain:
“We had a good total, but in bowling, we were not up to the mark because we weren’t taking wickets in the middle overs. In a World Cup, if you are not good even in one department, you lose. We started well while bowling, but we couldn’t take wickets. All credit to Afghanistan. We are not playing good cricket, [especially] in bowling and fielding. The pitch was helping the spinners even in the second innings. There was no pressure on their batsmen.”
Mohammad Nabi also speaks to the broadcasters:
“Big moment for the whole of Afghanistan. We have played eight games against Pakistan, and won in a big event. It’s a lovely moment today. We beat England as well and now Pakistan. The team is confident now. [Earlier] in the last moments, we used to lose the game [to Pakistan]. We thought it was the same wicket like against New Zealand, but it was totally changed. Noor bowled brilliantly, in the good areas. A lot of close games, and this is a fantastic feeling. We shouldn’t have lost against Bangladesh. But now half the tournament is gone. We gave a lap of honour at the ground, and hopefully in Pune also they will support us.”
Ibrahim Zadran is the Player of the Match:
“Thankful that I performed well in this event. I wanted to play with a positive intent. Many times Gurbaz and I have done a brilliant partnership together. We have played a lot of cricket together, right from the Under-16 days. I am feeling very glad for myself and for my country.”