Gurbaz 151 ineffective as Pakistan maintains composure in last-over drama
To take a commanding 2-0 lead in the ODI series, Pakistan defeated Afghanistan in a thrilling final over on Thursday in Hambantota. With their sixth victory in as many games, Pakistan, who was chasing 301, narrowly avoided a loss to the hosts and maintained their unblemished ODI record.
Shadab Khan was still going strong and unbeaten on 48 runs needed to win the game in the last over. Two wickets belonged to Pakistan. After then, there will likely be drama, as it always does when Pakistan and Afghanistan meet. When the last over was about to begin, Fazalhaq Farooqi ran the all-rounder out backing up.
Before Farooqi released the ball, Shadab had left the crease, and replays showed that he had been run out. Naseem Shah, on the other hand, maintained his composure and smacked the opening ball of the last over for a four past long-off.
As soon as Haris Rauf took the strike, the equation was reduced to six off three balls. Pakistan then gained three runs thanks to a misfield at deep midwicket, and with only one wicket remaining and three runs needed off the next two deliveries, Naseem Shah’s thick outside edge past short third brought the visitors home.
It meant that Afghanistan’s impressive batting display was in vain. The side had been bowled out for 59 in the first ODI, but Rahmanullah Gurbaz magnificent 151 and Ibrahim Zadran elegant 80 had helped them reach 300 for 5 at the time. It ultimately fell short of giving them their first win over Pakistan in this format nevertheless.
Following the early loss of Fakhar Zaman, Pakistan made a strong comeback, with Imam-ul-Haq leading the way with 91 runs and sharing a century stand with Babar Azam for the second wicket. Imam appeared to be the most at ease in the lineup, moving along primarily on runs of one and two.
Only four fours were hit in his 105-ball innings, but he managed to keep Pakistan’s needed run rate under check. Babar played a steady 53 minutes before being out for a duck in the first game. However, his dismissal by Farooqi in the 31st over opened the doors and provided Afghanistan with a route back.
Within ten deliveries, Pakistan lost three crucial wickets for three runs. Usama Mir, who had been promoted ahead of Shadab and Iftkhar Ahmed, and Agha Salma were both dismissed by two strikes from Mohammed Nabi in the 38th over. As the equation shrank to 56 from 30 balls, Mujeeb Ur Rahman then secured the crucial dismissal of Imam in the following over.
Still, the contest was evenly matched. Shadab continued to attack, smashing three fours and a six in his 35-ball innings, despite Pakistan losing Iftikhar and Shaheen Afridi in the 47th and 48th overs, respectively. His appearance was essential in helping Pakistan reduce the equation to 11 off the last over and chase down the high total. He was also given the Player-of-the-Match honor for it.
Afghanistan recorded their second-lowest ODI total two days ago after falling short of 202 in the chase. But against Pakistan on Thursday, two willful 21-year-olds who were born a few weeks apart gave Afghanistan their greatest ODI total.
On a pitch that was covered in grass and had bounce, the openers scored quickly over the course of approximately 40 overs. Additionally, it was played on a different surface from the one used for the first ODI, which favored spinners.
The strong opening pair of Gurbaz and Zadran, which reached 227 when the former holed out to long-off, was ultimately broken by leg spinner Usama Mir. Afghanistan had already reached the score needed to qualify.
Gurbaz frequently hit boundaries to reach fifty in 72 deliveries after stating his intentions from the start by moving down the track against the pace. Gurbaz managed to get his sixth ODI hundred in 122 balls despite feeling some discomfort in his left forearm.
His greatest over of the innings came against Rauf in the 37th over when he welcomed the pacer with four consecutive fours. Rauf was the bowler that terrorized Afghanistan with five wickets in the first game.
Gurbaz accomplished a couple things en route to his career-best performance: he became the first wicketkeeper to score 150 or more in men’s ODIs against Pakistan, and his 151 ranks as the third-highest individual ODI score by a Sri Lankan batter.
Zadran, on the other hand, calmly began his innings but quickly picked up the pace as it went along. In the 30th over, he needed 71 balls to register his fourth ODI fifty. On Thursday, while participating in his 16th ODI, he reached 50 for the eighth time, demonstrating his propensity for the 50-over format. Zadran scored 101 runs while hitting six fours and two sixes.
Pakistan’s short-ball strategy against the openers was ineffective because they either played it down the wicket or drew away for boundaries. In the 45th over, Afridi returned to dismiss Gurbaz and Rashid Khan, but it was too late for Pakistan to mount a comeback.
With the removal of Nabi in the penultimate over, Naseem added his name to the list of wicket-takers, but neither the spinners nor the seamers were able to break the early-innings spirit of Afghanistan. The spirit of Afghanistan, though, will inevitably give out in the end.