ICC World Cup 2019: Match 36, Pakistan vs Afghanistan, Review – Imad Wasim saves Men in Green from a massive scare

ICC World Cup 2019: Match 36, Pakistan vs Afghanistan, Review – Imad Wasim saves Men in Green from a massive scare

The Men in Green are firmly in contention to reach the final four after this thrilling win at Headingley.

Imad Wasim bowling
Imad Wasim of Pakistan produced an all-round effort vs Afghanistan. (photo by Alan Martin/Action Plus via Getty Images)

The ever-mercurial Pakistan once again fastened the heartbeats of their fans in a crunchy encounter but managed to reach the destination right on time. The Afghans had the game under control, but poor decision making towards the end let them down and Imad Wasim held his nerve wonderfully to keep Pakistan’s hopes firmly high.

The Men in Green greeted Afghanistan with a taste of their own medicine kickstarting the innings with spin. That didn’t work very well in the powerplay but Shaheen Shah Afridi picked up Gulbadin Naib and Hashmatullah Shahidi off consecutive deliveries to keep things under control. Right after the powerplay was done, Imad Wasim removed Rahmat Shah to put them completely on the backfoot.

Ikram Ali Khil and Asghar Afghan consolidated the situation a bit. Afghan went all-out against the Pakistani bowlers and ruffled a few feathers. He targetted the spinners Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan to notch a quickfire 42 off 35 balls. Their partnership accounted for 64 runs but they were dismissed in a span of 10 balls to once again put Afghanistan under some pressure.

Mohammad Nabi and Najibullah Zadran handled the pressure well after that for some overs, with Najibullah taking the attack to the bowlers. After Nabi’s dismissal, Najibullah played some decent shots and garnered some important runs. Shinwari added some valuable runs towards the end as well, which saw them amass 227 runs in their 50 overs.

Shaheen Afridi once again chipped in with a brilliant spell, picking four wickets for just 47 runs in his ten overs. The Afghan batsmen could only contribute in bits and pieces with none of them scoring big.

Spinners take it to the final over but Imad keeps his calm

Pakistan got off to a horrible start with Fakhar Zaman being trapped in front of the pads off the second ball. Mujeeb Ur Rahman dismissed him but Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam counter-attacked to get things back in their grips. It looked like smooth sailing for Pakistan with the duo adding 72 runs for the second wicket.

But things began to get tighter with Mohammad Nabi picking up these two batsmen in a span of two overs. He barely gave any runs away during his spell with Samiullah Shenwari, which helped Afghanistan improve the required run-rate. Mohammad Hafeez and Haris Sohail batted for the next 12 overs to keep things quiet, but Hafeez once again threw his wicket.

Rashid came back to the attack and picked up the big wicket of Haris Sohail. Sarfaraz Ahmed went for a dreamy second run and couldn’t make it back in time, only to walk back to the pavilion at a critical moment. With the scoreboard pressure mounting on Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan out there, they needed 46 runs off 30 balls and with six wickets down, that seemed like an impossible mountain to climb.

But a poor decision taken captain Gulbadin Naib drowned the Afghans as he took the 46th over and gave away 18 runs when he had three spin overs left. Although Shadab ran himself out, Wahab came out with a fractured finger to hit two very important boundaries and take Pakistan into a winning position. Imad Wasim won it for Pakistan in the final over to keep their hopes alive in the tournament.

Brief Scores

Afghanistan: 227/9 in 50 overs (Najibullah Zadran 42, Asghar Afghan 42; Shaheen Afridi 4/47)

Pakistan: 230/7 in 49.4 overs (Imad Wasim 49*, Babar Azam 45; Mohammad Nabi 2/23, Mujeeb Ur Rahman 2/34)

Result: Pakistan won by 3 wickets

Man of the match: Imad Wasim