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Pakistan looked more threatening than ever after Asif Ali’s sixes in the second last over against Afghanistan helped the team win its third game in a row. In Pakistan vs Afghanistan match that was game 24 of the T20 World Cup 2021, Green Shirts defeated their neighbors on Friday, 29 October 2021.
Babar’s side is practically into the semi-finals after they have beaten all three big teams of the Super 12s Group 2.
Afghanistan’s top order failure
Mohammad Nabi won the toss and elected to bowl first on Dubai’s pitch that was supposed to support spinners. As Afghanistan’s strength has been their spin bowling, they took this decision to trouble the men in green through their spinners in the second inning.
To win against good teams, you need a good target to defend. In UAE, powerplay is the key to scoring big totals. They lost Hazrat Zazai in the second over and other top-order batters followed him in the powerplay, putting Mohammad Nabi and chaps under pressure once the team had lost their top 4 in the first six overs in Pakistan vs Afghanistan game.
Lack of rotation of strike-rate in middle overs
Afghanistan was scoring at a run rate of almost eight-an-over in the powerplay but had lost their top 4 in the process. In the middle overs where spinners were operating, Afghan batters failed to rotate the strike properly. They never tried to use the field or to put the fielders under pressure. As a result, when Najibullah Zadran was bowled by Shadab Khan on the last delivery of the last over, they were 76/6.
Their run-rate had come down to less than six-an-over and from that scenario, even anything around 130 would have been acceptable. Poor shot selection and lack of game awareness of Afghan batters is something to talk about in the Pakistan vs Afghanistan contest. Nabi’s side had just one gear and once they tried to change it, there was a complete shut-down.
Gulbadin helps his team reach the par score
If rotation of strike and dealing in singles and doubles is a demand to Afghan batters, someone as experienced and talented as Mohammad Nabi would struggle to fulfill this. It was Gulbadin Naib who changed his gears against Hasan Ali to score 20+ in the 18th over of the inning in the Pakistan vs Afghanistan game.
A couple of boundaries in the next one bowled by Haris Rauf had powered Afghan batters to aim for more than 150. As Shaheen refused to concede any boundary in the final over, 147 was all they had to stop at. They had scored 46 in the last 4 overs and had gotten something to work with.
Slow start for Pakistan
Nabi started the proceedings in the second inning with the spinners, introducing himself and Mujibur Rahman in the powerplay. Rizwan was caught in the deep square leg in the 3rd over while Babar failed to deal in boundaries in the powerplay. Fakhar Zaman played a quick inning while Babar changed his gears when the medium pacers were introduced after the powerplay. When the first half of the second inning was completed, Pakistan needed 76 off 60 in Pakistan vs Afghanistan match.
Rashid made it tough for Batters
Rashid Khan was introduced after the ten overs and in a game where the required run-rate was 7.6 an over, he was still able to create magic. Pakistan failed to read his deliveries, even Babar had no idea which way the ball was turning. As a result, batters had registered nine response errors against Rashid Great Khan.
Meanwhile, Fakhar and Hafeez had lost their wickets. Babar was unable to deal with Aghan legend and had put pressure on his partners who failed to find a good connection between bat and ball. When Shoaib Malik came in to bat at no.5 in Pakistan vs Afghanistan contest that had entered into its final phase, Pakistan needed 51 off 35 balls.
Asif Ali starred in Pakistan vs Afghanistan contest
Nabi went with Rashid Khan in the 17th over, automatically going with two medium pacers in the last three. Shoaib Malik smashed Rashid for a big six in the same over but Pakistan’s skipper struggled once again. His catch was dropped by the covers fielder in the circle but when he faced the Afghan spinner on the next delivery, his leg stump was broken.
Shoaib Malik also lost his wicket to Naveen Ul Haq in the 18th over. Asif Ali refused to take a single on the last delivery of the same over when Shadab Khan asked for one.
Pakistan required 24 in the last 2 overs and Asif Ali was fully prepared. He had to face Karim Jannat, the most inexperienced Afghan bowler. The leg-side boundary was shorter. He had told Malik earlier that he can score 25 as well in the 19th over from that end.
This is the context of those heroics of Asif Ali in the second last over where he stole the show for Pakistan by hitting Karim for 4 maximums. His brilliant display of hard-hitting under pressure earned him the man of the match award as well in this interesting Pakistan vs Afghanistan game.