Saud Shakeel shakes Babar Azam when crucial partnership was much needed
Pakistan’s captain, Babar Azam chose to bat first on a turning track even by knowing Afghanistan could come hard. Afghanistan playing the game with all their attacking spin-force. Opening stand was just not bad. But since Imam got out, Rizwan followed Abdullah to put pressure on Babar Azam. Also, Saud Shakeel shakes Babar Azam again in the crucial fourth wicket partnership, which was growing.
At 120 runs on the board in the 25th over, Pakistan were in deep trouble by losing Rizwan to a cute slog sweep. Muhammad Rizwan hit a big six to look aggressive and in a hurry. He went for another and was out for 8 off 9 balls. He spent hardly 10 minutes on the crease as the weather looked hot and humid. Nabi was again brought in, and he picks Saud Shakeel. Rashid Khan takes a very good catch.
Shadab Khan walks in. A fifth wicket partnership, looking good since just about 15 overs left. Shadab played responsibly and was just trying to middle the ball. After 3 wickets down, Babar Azam was hoping Saud Shakeel could do some job along with him. However, the inexperience of Saud Shakeel in the ODIs explained everything. He looked comfortable in all the innings, in the World Cup so far, but again he lost his wicket too early. Iftikhar Ahmed yet to walkin as Shadab Khan joins his captain, played cautiously.
This is a very crucial ODI for Pakistan, a must win, to be in the race for the semifinals.
Afghanistan captain was so optimistic even by losing the toss that he claimed they can restrict Pakistan under 250 to chase easily. However, Pakistan managed to score 191 off 40 overs. Still by losing Babar Azam, who scored an elegant 74, in the last 10 overs Iftikhar Ahmed joined Shadab Khan. They both scored 91 runs in the last 10 overs. What was told earlier by Afghanistan captain, blown away in thin air. A target set as 283 for Afghanistan to play quality cricket to chase as Pakistan prepares to bowl.
Iftikhar Ahmed played a very good innings of 40 runs, a not be called as a cameo. He started cleverly by reading the pitch waited and waited and then hit Rashid Khan too for a six. Again, and again in his 40 runs, he scored, four 6s and two 4s. A strike-rate of almost 150 when he got out. It was a good show by Shadab Khan too. However, Saud Shakeel didn’t played to his potential. He’s regarded as the best player against turning ball any which way.