Abu Dhabi: Shoaib Malik (51*) fired Pakistan to three-wicket win over valiant Afghanistan in Asia Cup Super Four thriller at Sheikh Zayed Stadium on Friday.
Afghan captain Asghar won the toss and opted to bat first. Hashmatullah Shahidi smashed 97 and captain Asghar Afghan hit 67 runs to lift Afghanistan to fighting score of 257.
Chasing a decent target Pakistan lost Fakhar Zaman in the first over, while 154-run partnership between Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam put Pakistan on strong position. Both the batsmen hit fifties for their team. Imam-ul-Haq scored a 104-ball 80 with five boundaries and a six while Babar Azam knocked an attractive 94-ball 66 with four boundaries and a six during their innings.
While Shoaib Malik appeared to be hero to save Pakistan from defeat as he smashed unbeaten 51 off 43 with the help of one six and three fours to finish the game. He hit a six and a boundary to pull off a sensational last over three wicket win for Pakistan against a spirited Afghanistan.
Pakistan were not so good in the field against Afghanistan, dropping five chances in Abu Dhabi. Remarkably, Pakistan’s 18-year old debutant Shaheen Afridi was involved in all of the lapses. He was the unlucky bowler three times, but he also dropped two himself.
Afghanistan, who were looking to build on their upset wins over Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the first round, brought in big-hitting batsman Najibullah Zadran for Samiullah Shenwari.
Pakistan brought in Haris Sohail, Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Nawaz after losing to India by eight wickets on Wednesday, leaving out Mohammad Amir, Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf.
Shaheen is making his one-day international debut.
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Ali, Usman Khan Shinwari, Shaheen Shah Afridi
Afghanistan: Asghar Afghan (captain), Mohammad Shahzad, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Aftab Alam, Ihsanullah Janat.