Afghanistan vs Pakistan 2nd ODI: Preview and Prediction
Pakistan ironed over Afghanistan by a massive 142 runs margin in the first ODI of the three-match series on August 22 at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium, Hambantota. The Hashmatullah Shahidi-led unit will rub shoulders in the second ODI on August 24 and look to thrust back and equalize the tally before heading to Colombo for the final clash of the coveted series.
After winning the toss, Pakistan captain Babar Azam chose to bat first and defend the total in the second innings. The thought process did fall in their favor as their pace attack overshadowed the below-par target that they served in the plates of the opponents.
Left-arm pacer, Fazalhaq Farooqi initiated the first innings with the wicket of Fakhar Zaman, drawing the first blood in the very first over. Babar Azam, who came in at no. 3. followed him to the pavilion with a silver duck after Mujeeb Ur Rahman outwitted him leg before wicket. The Pakistan skipper ended up burning a review for his side before walking back to the hut. There was a modest partnership for the second wicket between opener Imam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Rizwan as the duo glued 33 runs together before the scoreboard displayed 40-3 after 7.5 overs.
For Pakistan, it was Imam the lone warrior for a considerable amount of time, tailoring a fifty-runs partnership with Iftikhar Ahmad (30). Soon, Shadab Khan took the place of Iftikhar and anchored the innings with the left-handed batter. While Imam fell to Nabi for 61 off 94 deliveries, Shadab attempted his best to take the innings deeper.
The tail-enders failed to give proper support to Pakistan’s vice-captain barring Naseem Shah who ticked the scoreboard with singles and doubles. Ultimately Shadab fell short of the crease due to a mess-up with Naseem and fell prey to a direct hit from Mujeeb in the 47th over. Eventually, Pakistan was folded over for 201 runs in 47.1 overs.
The home side looked complacent halfway through the match and did not realize the storm that they were going to surface through. It was the pair of Shaheen Afridi and Naseem Shah with the new white cherry and they made the best out of the hard swinging cork.
The left-arm pacer toppled Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmat Shah on back-to-back deliveries which was coupled with some Naseem Shah’s banger to remove the opposition captain- Hashmatullah Shahidi. The skipper’s wicket deserved a special shoutout to Shadab who leapt and held onto a stunner at the edge of the 30-yard circle.
The surface had a bit of moisture at the start for the pacers, who found healthy movements off the deck and in the air. However, it also had enough juice for the spinners to fetch the sharp turns and drifts. One could see the spinners doing the talking in the first innings as the likes of Mujeeb, Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, and Rahmat Shah snapped eight out of the ten dismissals.
However, during the chase, Afghanistan was pushed on the back foot right away with no room for scoring options. The scoreboard saw 3-4 after 3.3 overs and soon it transpired into 48-7 in the next hour. Haris Rauf broke through the spine of this batting order and rushed them with pace and bounce. He continuously aimed for the hard lengths and the tad bit of lateral movement added acted as the cherry on top.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz tried to hold one end up but failed to survive for long as the speedster, Rauf nicked his outside edge to the wicketkeeper. Wickets fell in clusters and the Afghan Atalans made heavy weather of chasing a target of 202 runs in 50 overs.
Azmatullah Omarzai was retired hurt and did not come out to bat later. In addition, there were lesser expectations from the tail when the designated batters failed to handle the heat from the Pakistan pacers. Thereby the Afghans succumbed to the pressure and were bundled for 59 with four balls shy of the 20th over.
What have they done so far?
The Pakistan side announced a 18-man squad for the upcoming ODI series which serves as a preparatory camp ahead of the silverware linked with the Asia Cup and 2023 World Cup. Their last ODI series was in the month of April-May against New Zealand who flew to the Asian nation for multi-format contests.
The Shaheens hosted a second-string Kiwi side as several New Zealand players were participating in the Indian Premier League at that time. The hosts were leading 4-0 comfortably in the 5-match series and could have clean-swept the Kiwis but a batting collapse allowed the visitors to sneak out with a win and end the series at 4-1.
On the other hand, Afghanistan travelled to Bangladesh in July to test themselves in various forms. Despite suffering a disastrous defeat in the One-Off Test, they managed to bounce back by winning the ODI series 2-1.
Over the past year, the rising cricketing nation from Asia has witnessed some incredible performances while colliding against Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka. They dominated the Chevlons in June, followed by a series draw with Sri Lanka in November 2022. Right after, the two Asian nations battled once again in June 2023 where the Lankan Lions emerged on the top.
Afghanistan and Pakistan have locked horns against one another in five ODI matches so far. After the first ODI between the two nations in the ongoing three-match series, the tally lies 5-0 in favor of Pakistan. Afghanistan are yet to win an ODI game against their counterparts.
Shaheen Afridi (Pakistan): Since his return from injury, Shaheen Afridi has become a different version of himself and has been rattling the batters with pace and swing for fun. He is a lethal operator of the new ball and the paceman’s recent stint with the Welsh Fire in the Men’s Hundred speaks for itself.
The left-arm pacer also continued the good form to the international level with the first ODI an epitome of his sheer class. The expectation of early breakthroughs from Shaheen is not an option but a wager.
Ibrahim Zadran (Afghanistan): If the home side has to come out of the trauma that they received in the last game, Afghanistan needs some strong batting performances. And when it comes to elegant strokes and extended innings with the bat, Ibrahim Zadran is one of the top players in the Afghanistan squad.
Ibrahim is a steady player of spin and pace and has the ability to switch gears when the need arrives. The 21-year-old has four centuries and two half-centuries from 15 ODI innings with a highest score of 162 against Sri Lanka. With an average of 57.61, Ibrahim is definitely someone who can counter the Pakistani bowlers.
Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam ©, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Iftikhar Ahmed, Agha Salman, Shadab Khan, Usama Mir, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf
Afghanistan: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi ©, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Ikram Alikhil, Rashid Khan, Abdur Rehman, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Fazalhaq Farooqi
It was the battle of the Pakistani pacers versus the Afghani spinners in the first ODI where the visitors emerged victorious. One can expect a bounce back from the Hashmatullah Shahidi-led unit to level the series this time around. They would be blazing all guns out for a win but things wouldn’t be made easy by Babar’s men who are breathing fire after the first victory in Hambantota.