Pakistan 230 for 7 (Imad 49*, Babar 45, Nabi 2-23, Mujeeb 2-34) beat Afghanistan 227 for 9 (Asghar 42, Najibullah 42, Afridi 4-47, Wahab 2-29) by three wickets
There was panic, pandemonium, passion and pain in the World Cup group stage match between Afghanistan and Pakistan as Pakistan held their nerve to win by three wickets at Leeds on Saturday.
Teenage left-arm quick Shaheen Shah Afridi was once again the pick of the bowlers taking four Afghanistan wickets while a composed 49 from Imad Wasim helped a nervous Pakistan chase down the total with two deliveries to spare.
The win takes Pakistan to fourth spot, with nine points, a point above England and they now have a genuine chance of making the semi-finals, especially if they can win their last game as well.
After winning the toss, Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib chose to bat on a slow surface and he was the first wicket to fall with the score on 27, dismissed by Afridi.
The 18-year-old soon had two wickets in two balls as he dismissed Hashmatullah Shahidi for a golden duck.
The hat-trick was averted by new batsman Ikram Alikhil as he and opener Rahmat Shah then formed a nice 30-run partnership before Rahmat was dismissed by Imad for 35.
Asghar Afghan then came in and formed a solid counter-attacking partnership with Ikram to take the team score past 100.
Just as the Afghans were looking to go on the ascendency, Shadab Khan had Asghar bowled for 42, and soon after Ikram was gone too, dismissed for 24 by Imad.
At 125/5 the pendulum of the game had once again swung, but the Afghans started to rebuild again with Mohammad Nabi and Najibullah Zadran and they would take the team score past 150 before Nabi was gone for 16.
Zadran then found another able partner in Samiullah Shinwari to cross the 200-run mark before he was dismissed for 42.
With just over five overs left and three wickets in hand, Shinwari looked for quick runs with the tail, but the Pakistani fast bowlers, especially Afridi and Wahab Riaz bowled beautifully to keep the total down to 227/9.
Afghanistan got immediate success as Mujeeb Ur Rahman had Fakhar Zaman trapped in front for a duck.
From there, two of Pakistan’s best batsmen Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam formed a partnership and took the total to 72 before Imam had a rush of blood, charged down the track to slog Nabi, and was eventually stumped for 36.
Last match’s centurion, Babar was playing fluently but a brilliant delivery from Nabi had him bowled around the legs for 45 and Afghanistan were once again back in the game.
Experienced Mohammad Hafeez and in-form Haris Sohail then formed a partnership to take the score past 100 but Hafeez soon gave his wicket away, as he has done so far in this tournament for 19.
Haris and captain Sarfaraz Ahmed were both soon dismissed for 27 and 18 respectively and Afghanistan could sense a famous victory with Pakistan 156/6 after 39 overs.
But from there, Imad Wasim formed a vital stand with Shadab to reduce the required run rate from around seven to around six and take the team past 200.
Shadab was eventually run-out for 11 but Imad and Wahab Riaz ensured there were no further hiccups and the win was secured.
Afghanistan can feel hard done by this as they could have fielded better and Imad would have been out much earlier.
The injury to fast bowler Hamid Hassan, who was probably playing his last international match, after bowling two overs only gave Gulbadin no choice but to bowl the last over, and he was expensive today, going at 7.55 runs per over.
And then there was the umpiring in this game which was once again under the scanner as Haris Sohail survived an LBW appeal which was given not-out and Afghanistan had run out of reviews; replays showed that it would have been out.
The win takes Pakistan into fourth spot from sixth and over Bangladesh who are on seven points at sixth and England who are on eight points at fifth.
Afghanistan stay winless, with just one game left to play and are eliminated along with Windies (9th with three points) South Africa (8th with five points).
Sri Lanka are on seventh spot with a very slim hope of qualification to the semis with six points.
- This is only the 15th win for Pakistan chasing a target over 200 since April 2015, They have had 37 chases in this period, losing 23 of them.
- Shaheen Shah Afridi becomes the first teenager to take a four-wicket haul in World Cup history.