ICC World Cup 2019: Warm-up Match 1, Afghanistan vs Pakistan Review - Nabi and Shahidi steer Afghans to a stunning win

ICC World Cup 2019: Warm-up Match 1, Afghanistan vs Pakistan Review – Nabi and Shahidi steer Afghans to a stunning win

Babar Azam's hundred went in vain for the Men in Green as they continued their horrendous run.

Hashmatullah Shahidi
Hashmatullah Shahidi. (Photo by Harry Trump-IDI/IDI via Getty Images)

Afghanistan registered a sensational win against a much-stronger Pakistani side and did their confidence a world of good in the first warm-up game of the World Cup 2019 at Bristol. They couldn’t have asked for a better start to their campaign and same applies for the Men in Green, who continued their horrible run despite the odd brilliant individual performances from Babar Azam and Wahab Riaz.

Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman got going with some splendid shots against the new ball, but their stay was cut short by Mohammad Nabi, who broke the 47-run opening stand. In came their main man Babar Azam, who started stroking the ball beautifully right from the get-go.

Naib used all three of his spinners brilliantly in the middle overs, especially Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan. Mujeeb was a little ineffective and didn’t enjoy bowling to Babar, but the other two covered up big time. The 24-year-old kept losing partners with Haris Sohail and Mohammad Hafeez getting dismissed early.

He finally found good companionship with the veteran Shoaib Malik, who got some crucial runs under his belt. A 103-run stand between these players helped Pakistan get into a brilliant position to challenge for a 300+ total. But once Shoaib Malik fell to Nabi, things didn’t unravel well for the 1992 champions.

The only positive aspect for them in the final 10 overs was Babar Azam getting another hundred to his name, but he was dismissed soon after. Eventually, some brilliant death bowling from Dawlat Zadran and Aftab Alam saw Pakistan getting bowled out for 262 runs. Rashid registered figures of 2/27 whilst Nabi returned with an outstanding 3/46.

Zazai and Shahidi steer their side over the line

Mohammad Shahzad and Hazratullah Zazai gave Afghanistan an electrifying start, spanking Mohammad Amir and Shaheen Afridi to all parts. Although Shahzad walked back retired hurt after a hamstring injury, Zazai continued the onslaught. Just before completing his fifty, he was picked up at deep midwicket off Shadab Khan’s first delivery in England.

Also read- Twitter Reactions: Mohammad Nabi dazzles all-round to defy Babar Azam’s century

Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi showed great maturity at this point and capitalised on the fiery start their openers gave. After 15 overs, their scoring rate was above 6 and they understood what the need of the hour was. They did get the odd boundary, but there clearly was no hurry to get the game completed.

Rahmat Shah walked back after a well-compiled 32, but Afghanistan’s brilliant approach wasn’t hampered. Mohammad Nabi walked in and built brilliantly on the platform created by the other batters. He smacked a 41-ball 33 and also helped Shahidi complete a fifty.

Things got very tight in the final few overs with Wahab Riaz beginning to reverse the ball. He literally was unplayable and in the 48th over, with 16 to get, he picked two wickets and gave just two runs away. Shadab’s next over cost 8 runs and that took the game completely out of Pakistan’s reach. Despite taking it to the final over, Afghanistan managed to get over the line with Hashmatullah Shahidi scoring the winning run and remaining unbeaten on a 102-ball 74.

Brief Scores

Pakistan: 262 all out in 47.5 overs (Babar Azam 112, Shoaib Malik 44; Mohammad Nabi 3/46)

Afghanistan: 263/7 in 49.4 overs (Hashmatullah Shahidi 74*, Hazratullah Zazai 49; Wahab Riaz 3/46)

Result: Afghanistan won by 3 wickets