Asia Cup 2018: Super Four, Match 2, Pakistan vs Afghanistan - Who Said What

Shoaib Malik was exceptional in the end.

Rashid Khan
Rashid Khan. (Photo Source: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images)

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What a game it was! Afghanistan is some team and they are here to stay. The way they are playing in this Asia Cup, the teams outside Asia should be wary of them in the World Cup. Pakistan almost became their new victim only for Shoaib Malik to stay calm and cool-headed when it mattered the most. The unbeaten knock of 51 runs from him made sure that his team starts the Super Four stage with a win.

The chase though was set up by Babar Azam and Imam-ul-Haq earlier in the innings with a brilliant 154-run stand. Fakhar Zaman‘s yet another failure had put Pakistan under immense in the chase but they played exceptionally well and most importantly, rotated the strike which never let the required run-rate get better of them. However, they were also punishing the bad balls which were very few but were coming their way.

The second drinks break though brought Afghanistan back in the game just when they were looking resigned to their fate. Imam’s run-out and Babar being stumped off Rashid Khan helped them claw their way back and then Malik’s experience was the only way Pakistan could’ve won. The shots played by some of their batsmen including the skipper Sarfraz Ahmed could be questioned but the fact that they won, should make much difference now.

Shahidi stands tall

Earlier in the day, Asghar Afghan won the toss and again Afghanistan began to bat with a set template. They consumed balls early on stitched slow but useful partnership. While Hashmatullah Shahidi batted patiently, their captain blazed his way through to 67 runs off 56 balls. Even Rahmat Shah looked good for his 30s after the openers were dismissed early.

The last 10 overs proved to be crucial once again as Shahidi made it count superbly. He got to his half-century off 86 balls and began to tonk the ball exceptionally at the death which left Pakistanis frustrated. It was all about Afghanistan at that point in time as they were once again reaching their safe zone of scoring over 250 by batting first.

They eventually got there and 257 was never going to be easy against Afghanistan bowlers but then they just faced a better team which never let the game go away from them.

Man of the Match, Shoaib Malik said:

Being a senior player, the goal was to bat to the 50th over. That was the only thing. At one stage the required rate was 10, but I kept telling myself to play till the last over.

Even good bowlers, when they’re bowling at the end, the situation is different. As batsmen we can charge them. Would like to congratulate them. Everyday they’ve been improving. I think they’re a great side.

Pakistan captain, Sarfraz Ahmed said:

We were shaken. Credit to Imam, Babar and the way Shoaib played towards the end, that was fantastic. The spinners they have, I reckon they’re the best in the world. Against them, to chase 250 in these conditions, you have to bat out of your skins.

Shadab couldn’t pass his fitness test. Got a lot of confidence the way we won today. Team has been motivated by this performance. Our fielding has improved in last one and a half years, but today it went awry.

Afghanistan captain, Asghar Afghan said:

I congratulate Pakistan, they played really well. It was tough and thrilling. The crowd enjoyed the game. It is the first game in this Asia Cup – close game.

Lot of credit to Babar and Imam. They played very well and built a crucial partnership. If you give a chance to a senior player like Malik, it’s difficult. Malik chased down and they won the game.

Today, Hashmatullah and myself played well and we wanted 240+. Our fielding and medium-pacers let us down. I think on this type of track, Rashid is good. 4 overs 40 is tough to score and that’s why we went with the same plan, but they played very well.

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