Pakistan team’s unpredictable batting squad can be a gift from skies for Afghanistan if they are able to do well with their own batting. Pakistan is a test nation and if Afghanistan can win against all odds, this will not be ignored on international level. The pitch is also a benign one and Pakistan’s seam bowlers will not be able to play havoc.
Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi made 223 runs in five Dhaka Premier Division matches. He has many aggressive players to make quick runs. Mohammad Shahzad is one such player in the top order. This instinctive player is a great hope for the team.
Toss: Afghanistan won the toss and elected to field
The history between these two teams is quite interesting. Some of Afghanistan’s players played quite well, although they could not capitalize their batting strength due to lack of experience. Another weakness is that the team faces difficulties in playing the spin. Saeed Ajmal is a magical spinner and he will surely become a challenge to the opposition.
On the other hand, Pakistan needs to concentrate on their batting strategy. In the last game, Pakistan lost a match in the last overs while touching the victory line. This is a besetting sin that needs be remedied.
Pakistan Batting: Although this was only the third ODI for Afghanistan against a test playing team, but still it baffled the opponents, to the amusement of Afghan cricket fans. Just take away Umar Akmal’s 102 off 89 balls, and you can see through the plight of Pakistani batsmen, struggle before the aggressive Afghan bowling. When Akmal was playing at 28, Samiullah Shenwari dropped the catch and it cost them the match. It gave Pakistan a chance to regroup its strength and their experience took away the game from inexperienced Afghan team.
At first their decision to bowl at a slow pitch was surprising but it also showed their confidence in their bowling. The decision proved correct when Pakistan batsmen timidly began to return to pavillion. They were frightened with the furious and unexpected onslaught. They regularly lost wickets and each fallen batsmen left the ground but the pressure he created remained on the pitch and the new batsman could feel the burden of it. At 55 Sharjeel Khan lost his wicket to Noor Ali Zadran. He was looking uncomfortable playing balls targeting his body and at last gave away his wicket, scoring just 25 runs. Mohammad Hafeez was the second to depart after scoring just 10 runs, leaving Pakistan at 78/2. Ahmed Shehzad managed to score 50 runs before being bold by Samiullah Shenwari. At this moment Pakistan began to feel the heat of the situation but still they had some experience intact to tackle the situation. But Misbah was declared run out at 89/4. It looked last nail for Pakistan. Sohaib Maqsood was the next to lose his wicket at 108/5. Disaster was staring Pakistan in the eyes and a bleak picture was emerging around their fate. Only Umar Akmal was still on the wicket and all hopes were concentrated on his abilities. In this immense pressure, Shahid Afridi repeated his history of rashness and after making just 6 runs, Dawlat Zadran knocked off his off stump. Umar Akmal was running out of partners and needed someone to play his part. Anwar Ali and then Umar Gul provided him the necessary support and in this way, Akmal succeeded in achieving his century with the help of 7 fours and 3 sixes. All this drama in the ground made Pakistan set a target of 249 for Afghanistan. This was a difficult task, keeping in view Pakistan’s strong bowling and Afghanistan’s inexperience.
Afghanistan BattingAs was expected, Afghanistan started quite reasonably and lost only one wicket in the first 15 overs. Even in the 36th over, they had lost only two wickets. But this promising picture had one hitch in it; they were not playing speedy enough to keep runs trickling from their bats. Concentrating on keeping their wickets intact, they forgot to score rapidly. This put pressure on the batsmen who had more than 10 runs per over to achieve. This started a panic situation and experienced Pakistani bowling began hunting them down one by one. From 139/3 they in the 37th over, they were 176 all out in 48th over. In nearly 10 overs, they lost 7 wickets and collected only 37 runs. As a result Pakistan won the match by 72 runs and they also got one bonus point to strengthen their position on the points table.
Pakistan XI: Ahmed Shehzad, Anwar Ali, Junaid Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi, Sharjeel Khan, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul.
Afghanistan XI: Asghar Stanikzai, Dawlat Zadran, Hamza Hotak, Mirwais Ashraf, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad, Najibullah Zadran, Nawroz Mangal, Noor Ali Zadran, Samiullah Shenwari, Shapoor Zadran.
Pitch & Weather Report: Fatullah has offered very little signs of encouragement to the bowlers so far in the tournament and that trend is likely to continue. Dew might make a difference in the second half of the day as some appeared on Wednesday night.
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