Afridi’s Sixes Blast Pakistan in to Final

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Pakistan Chasing Score of 327

Another unbelievable match which was turned on its head by Shahid Afridi. With the required run rate touching 11, Afridi’s blitz gave Pakistan the injection required to chase down the required runs. Amidst the furore of sixes, the contribution of Ahmed Shehzad and Fawad Alam should not be forgotten, after the two contributed over 180 runs between them, well over half of the total required. 

 

Pakistan made two changes from the side that defeated India a couple of days ago, Sharjeel made way for Fawad Alam, with Hafeez moving to the opening slot and Junaid Khan being replaced by left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman. 

Hafeez again was chosen to open the bowling with Umar Gul and the spinner very nearly picked up a wicket off the fifth ball of the innings, Imrul Kayes prodding forward and edging to the left of Ahmed Shehzad at slip who dropped the catch. The Bangladesh openers were circumspect in their approach, and Hafeez should have had Kayes lbw in the seventh over, but this time poor umpiring was to blame, as Hawkeye showed the ball cannoning into leg stump. There were shades of the previous match for Hafeez, who also had a good lbw shout against Ravindra Jadeja turned down before the bowler himself dropped a sitter a few overs later. 

Giving a batsman a reprieve on flat pitches certainly gives the impetus back to the opposition and Anamul Haque pulled a short delivery by Umar Gul for six to boost Bangladesh after a slow start in which 39 runs were scored in 10 powerplay overs. 

Abdur Rehman was introduced into the attack in the 11th over and few could have foreseen what was to come from the veteran off-spinner. A bowler known for his nagging accuracy, Rehman proceeded to bowl three beamers in a row and Pakistan were forced to take him out of the attack, ending up with future-quiz question figures of 0 overs, 0 maidens, 8 runs and no wickets.

Mohammad Talha was unable to replicate his performance against India and his third over was pummelled for 21, including two pulled sixes and one four. Ajmal and Hafeez brought some control to proceedings in the middle overs, but failed to dislodge the opening pair. 

At the mid-way point of the innings, Bangladesh were 133/0, with runs scored at a rate of 5.32 per over, Imrul Kayes on 51 and Anamul Haque 72. Talha struck shortly after the 150 partnership had come up, Kayes (59 off 75 balls) was caught by Umar Akmal off a short ball. 

Anamul Haque duly brought up a wonderful century, off 131 balls with six fours and four sixes. However Saeed Ajmal struck in the 39th over to add a wicket to his frugal figures – 6overs, 9/1 and Bangladesh were 205/2 going into the final 10 overs. Misbah opted to bowl Umar Gul and his star spinner Saeed Ajmal in the death overs, but the decision did not pay off, as Bangladesh added 121 runs in the last 10 overs, with Ajmal leaking 52 runs from his final four overs. Despite picking up the wicket of Mominul Haque (51) in the 45th over, he ended up taking 2/61 which seemed unlikely after his tight first six overs. Shakib Al Hasan took a particular liking to the spinner, hitting him for two fours and a six and ending with a blistering 44 in 16 balls. 

Bangladesh ended their innings on 326/3, their highest ODI score and looked on track for keeping their Asia Cup run alive by bowling Pakistan out for under 260 and netting a bonus point. 

Ahmed Shehzad opened with his new partner Mohammad Hafeez, who was pushed up one place after Sharjeel was left out. The two batsmen put on 55 in the first ten overs, despite Shakib Al Hasan bowling four overs for just 9 runs, including two maidens. 

Mohammad Hafeez was the aggressor, scoring 33 off 27 in the powerplay. The two batsmen were tied down by spin, despite reaching 97/0 from the first 20 overs before Hafeez, looking to accelerate, was caught by Kayes off Haque. 

This precipitated a period of Pakistan losing quick wickets, with Misbah (4) batting at number three departing in the next over, bowled by Shakib after an uncharacteristic hoik and Maqsood (2) caught behind trying to cut Mominul Haque. This brought Fawad Alam to the crease. This was his comeback game and with a well-set Shehzad, he went about rebuilding the Pakistan chase. Shehzad had become bogged down but cut loose with two fours off a Mominul Haque over and the two batsmen batted sensibly, combining quick running between the wickets with boundaries when the bowlers erred in length. 

The two carried Pakistan from 105/3 in the 23rd over to 210/4, as Shehzad departed after making a quality century (103 off 123 balls) to provide the base for the Pakistan chase. Rehman was sent in to try and redeem himself after his earlier bowling effort, or lack there of, but the experiment was not a success, the left-hander making just 8. 

This brought Shahid Afridi to the crease, to prove the runs against India were not a fluke. 

He produced a breathtaking display of hitting, which resulted in the all-rounder smashing 59 off 25 balls, with two fours and seven sizes, at a strike rate of 236. He reached 50 off 18 balls, the second quickest of all time in a succession of massive hits, the sequence being: 6,2,6,1,6,2,0,6,6,0,0,1,0,4,6,wide,0,4,wide,wide,0 , bye,0,1,6. It was an action-packed innings, which including a dropped catch and Afridi struggling with injury and asking the umpire for a runner, despite the runner rule being rescinded by the ICC a long time ago!

He was run out with a sharp piece of fielding by Shakib Al Hasan and although Umar Akmal came to the crease, with Pakistan needing 31 off the final three overs, Fawad Alam (74 off 70 balls) turned accumulator to aggressor as he bashed two sixes off Abdur Razzak in the 48th over. Akmal joined the party and played a lovely cover drive in the penultimate over to leave Pakistan needing three runs off the final over. 

A bit of drama was inevitable in a Pakistani run chase, and Alam was run out off the fourth ball of the final over but with Pakistan needing two off two, Akmal redeemed himself by hitting through midwicket for four as Pakistan registered their biggest run chase in their history. 

 

PakPassion

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