Pakistan marked another victorious chapter by clinching their second one-day international (ODI) against Afghanistan with a slim margin of one wicket in the scenic Hambantota, Sri Lanka.
Carrying forward the momentum from their first ODI win, where they dominated by 142 runs, Pakistan proved they were unstoppable, seizing the series.
As the hero against Afghanistan in the 2022 Asia Cup, Naseem Shah rose again. The Green Shirts found themselves in a nail-biting scenario, requiring 11 runs from the final six deliveries. The climax unfolded in their favour, thanks to Shah’s heroics.
Commencing their chase of a daunting 301, Pakistan faced an early blow with Fakhar Zaman departing at just 52. However, Imam-ul-Haq and Captain Babar Azam masterminded a crucial 118-run partnership, steering Pakistan towards a potential win. The ship seemed steady until Babar’s dismissal at Fazalhaq Farooq’s hands led to a collapse in the batting order.
Despite the odds, Shadab Khan rekindled hopes with a brisk 48 from 35 balls. Drama ensued in the final over when Fazalhaq took out Shadab in an unexpected turn of events. Yet, Naseem was undeterred, commandeering the chase and ensuring Pakistan’s victory.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz: The Afghan Powerhouse”
In the first innings, Afghanistan’s batting was electrified by Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who churned out a magnificent 151. Choosing to bat, the opening duo of Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran demonstrated exemplary teamwork, stitching together a 227-run partnership, which is only second to Afghanistan’s best ODI alliance.
Zadran narrowly missed his century, being dismissed at 80 by Usama Mir. Gurbaz, however, was relentless, hammering a run-a-ball 150 featuring a barrage of boundaries. Shaheen Shah Afridi eventually dismissed him, but the damage to Pakistan was evident.
The Pakistani bowlers had a challenging day, with Shaheen managing two wickets and Naseem Shah and Usama Mir settling for one each.
Adjustments were made to Afghanistan’s squad after the first ODI, introducing Riaz Hassan and Shahid Kamal in place of the injured Rahmat Shah and Azmatullah Omarzai. Pakistan, confident after their initial win, fielded an unchanged team.
Afghanistan: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Riaz Hassan, Hashmatullah Shahidi (capt), Ikram Alikhil, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Abdul Rahman, Shahid Kamal, Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Pakistan: Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Salman Ali Agha, Shadab Khan, Usama Mir, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf.