With a sensational one-wicket victory in the second PAK vs AFG ODI, the Green Shirts sealed the three-match series 2-0 with a game to spare.
Naseem Shah, who clinched a thrilling one-wicket victory over Afghanistan in the previous edition of the Asia Cup with two final-over sixes, once again steered Pakistan to a close victory over the same opposition.
The right-arm pacer stole the spotlight with a tense finish, despite Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam’s half-centuries and Shadab Khan’s gutsy 48.
With Pakistan needing 11 runs in the final over, the enthralling contest got a lot more interesting when Fazal Haq Farooqi mankad Shadab during his run-up to bowl the first delivery.
Afghanistan started things steadily after winning the toss, as their openers dealt with Pakistan’s pace attack sensibly.
Shadab’s dismissal, who scored a crucial 35-ball 48, had Afghanistan sniffing their first-ever victory over Pakistan in ODIs, but Pakistan’s tailenders Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf displayed the nerves of steel to deprive the hosts of creating history as Pakistan sealed the victory on the penultimate delivery.
Naseem Shah scored an unbeaten 10 off five deliveries, hitting two boundaries, while Haris Rauf scored three crucial runs.
Chasing 301 in the second PAK vs. AFG, Pakistan openers Fakhar Zaman (30) and Imam-ul-Haq provided a solid start with a 52-run partnership before Fazalhaq Farooqi dismissed the former in the ninth over.
Imam was then joined by Pakistan captain Babar Azam at the crease, and the pair soon knitted an anchoring 118-run stand for the second wicket.
The pair appeared to have settled down before Babar miscued one off Farooqi in the 31st over, briefly after amassing his half-century. Babar scored 53 in 66 balls, laced with six boundaries.
Babar’s dismissal opened the floodgates as Pakistan lost four wickets in quick succession, including their mainstay Imam to slip to 211/6 in the 39th over.
Imam remained the top scorer for Pakistan with a calculated 105-ball 91, which featured four boundaries.
Following the slump, Iftikhar Ahmed and Shadab Khan stitched a cautious 47-run partnership and anchored the run chase until the former’s dismissal, when he scored 17 off 24.
Opting to bat first in the second PAK vs AFG ODI, Afghanistan raised a commendable total of 300/5 off Rahmanullah Gurbaz’s marathon 151-run knock.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz charged at Pakistani bowlers, while Ibrahim Zadran anchored through the innings, amid the frustration of Pakistani bowlers, who bowled Afghanistan inside 20 overs in the last match for a paltry total of 59.
Afghanistan’s openers knitted a brilliant 227-run opening stand, which is the second-highest opening stand against Pakistan in ODI cricket. Rahmanullah Gurbaz reached his fifth ODI hundred during the partnership before it was broken by Usama Mir.
Ibrahim Zadran departed after scoring 101-ball 80 runs, featuring six boundaries and two sixes.
Meanwhile, Rahmanullah Gurbaz continued the onslaught and reached the 150-run mark before being caught behind off Shaheen Afridi. His brilliant 151-run innings featured 14 boundaries and three sixes.
Pakistani bowlers did a remarkable job in the death overs to restrict Afghanistan to 300 in the allocated 50 overs.
Shaheen Afridi picked up two wickets, while Usama Mir and Naseem Shah contributed one wicket each.