This was the one Pakistan group game I didn’t have a ticket for, I was offered the opportunity to go, but having driven 1700 miles and been away from home for days on end I decided to stay at home. So, for this one I’m going from the TV coverage.

Gulbadin Naib won the toss for Afghanistan and elected to bat, another must win for Pakistan 2 points would keep them in the running for a semi-final place if other results went their way.

Imad Wasim opened the bowling, an interesting choice with the new ball. Rahmat and Gulbadin scored 5 from that first over. Amir was next up, he’d taken a wicket with his first ball in Pakistan’s last 2 games, what would he do in this match, no wicket, but no run either from his first ball. In fact his first over was a maiden. Rahmat had one swing and miss other than that he played a cautious 6 balls.

Afghanistan’s first boundary came in Imad’s second over, their second from Amir’s first ball of his second over, 2 very well placed shots. A third Four and Afghanistan moved to 17 for no wicket after 4 overs.

Gulbadin made 15 From 12 Balls

Shaheen Afridi replaced Imad, the young bowler was immense against New Zealand, Gulbadin hit a wonderful Four from his first ball. His second ball was hit straight back to him and Shaheen threw at he stumps, he hit them but the ball sailed away and Afghanistan ran 2. A second Four came from the next. And an appeal for a catch from the next, the review showed an edge on ultra edge and Gulbadin was out! A great review from Pakistan, the captain was gone for 15 and Afghanistan were 27 for 1.

Shaheen Afridi in great form

Hashmutullah Shahidi was next in and very promptly out for a Golden Duck! A comfortable catch for Imad and a hat-trick ball up next for the 19 year old Shaheen! The hat-trick wasn’t to be, but, 2 boundaries, an attempted run out and 2 wickets saw some drama in Shaheen’s first over!

Ikram came in to face Amir and was given out LBW on the last ball of the over, the review showed an edge however, good review! Afghanistan scored 7 from Shaheen’s next over. After 8 Afghanistan were 40 for 2. I found myself people watching as this was TV viewing, searching for my Stani Army friends. The Pakxican was up to his Mexican Wave shenanigans early.

Afghanistan were 46 for 2 after 10 overs and Hafeez was brought on to bowl, With Imad at the other end we had spinners from both ends. Afghanistan’s 50 came up in the 11th over.

Rahmat hit a ramp shot from Imad for Four then hit a catch straight into Babar’s hands, he’d made 35 and Afghanistan were 57 for 3 after 12 overs. The replay showed the ball going off the edge of the bat.

Wahab Riaz replaced Hafeez who’d gone for 10 from his 2 overs, Wahab went for 6 himself, Shadab was brought on at the other end, his first ball went for Four and Afghanistan finished the over (16th) on 82 for 3.

Asghar Afghan scored 42 From 35 Balls

Shadab’s second over went for 13 runs with former captain Asghar Afghan moving to 32 from 18 balls, Afghanistan brought their 100 up in the 19th over. Shadab had the last word however as he bowled Asghar for 42, he’d played a very fine innings. Afghanistan were 121 for 4 after 25.1 overs.

A review for LBW came in the same over, the wickets hitting was umpires call, so no wicket, but Pakistan kept their review.

Ikram Khil had batted well but he didn’t get enough on an Imad ball and he was caught by Hafeez, out for 24 and Afghanistan were 125 for 5 after 27 overs.

Things went quiet all round and Shaheen came back on to bowl to no avail for Pakistan, Amir came back in search of a wicket again he had no luck. Afghanistan moved to 167 for 5 until Wahab and Amir combined, a great catch from Amir saw Nabi despatched for 16 and the score was 167 for 6. A dangerous batsman was walking back to the pavilion.

Another quiet spell saw Pakistan in need of a wicket and in need of some decent fielding, they were struggling with both. Afghanistan moved to 190 for 6 after 42.2 overs. Najibullah was 36 from 48 and Shinwari 6 from 17. This was their longest innings when batting first.

A great shot from Najibullah saw a Four hit from Shaheen, but, the 19 year old bowled a beauty next ball and he was clean bowled for 42, Afghanistan were 202 for 7.

Shaheen Afridi has shown himself to be an extremely talented bowler, his variation was remarkable at times, he had Rashid Khan caught by Fakhar for 8, a great ball! Afghanistan were 210 for 8 after 46.4 overs.

Wahab took 2 for 29 From 8 overs

Wahab bowled a beautiful ball to bowl Hassan for 1, with 10 balls remaining Afghanistan were 219 for 9. Pakistan won’t have wanted to chase much more than that. Wahab was playing with a fracture in his non bowling hand, but determined to do his best.

Afghanistan batted through their 50 overs and finished on 227 for 9, a really good effort.

Afghanistan had a dream start to the Pakistan innings as Mujeeb, who bowled really well against England, trapped Fakhar LBW in the first over. On top of losing the wicket Pakistan also lost their review. 0 for 1 after 2 balls for Pakistan.

Imam scored 36 From 47 Balls

That brought the in form Babar in to bat with the much criticised Imam. in 34 ODI innings he’s scored over 1500 runs, which is no mean feat for an opener. Many Pakistan fans seem to begrudge his family connection as nephew to Inzaman he can’t help who his Uncle is. He’s a player I enjoy watching.

Babar faced a review for LBW in the 7th over, the ball was shown to be outside the line so, Afghanistan lost their review too. With some strange umpiring decisions in the Pakistan innings they would hold sway for the rest of the match.

Rashid Khan

A great moment on the TV as Babar had hit Rashid for a four, they exchanged a glance and a smile, brilliant to see. The young bowler hasn’t had the best tournament.

Nabi struck in the 16th over, Imam swung for the ball, missed and was stumped, he knew he was out, he didn’t wait for the review. Pakistan were 72 for 2 and required 156 from 34 overs/204 balls.

Babat scored 45 from 51 Balls

Nabi bowled a peach of a ball in his next over, Babar went for a sweep, missed the ball totally and lost his stump. A huge wicket for Afghanistan. Pakistan were 81 for 3.

The spinners had put some pressure on Pakistan, they were 90 for 3 after 21 overs. Then 113 for 3 after 27 overs. Afghanistan kept the pressure on and Mujeeb got the breakthrough for his team, Hafeez was out for 19, caught Hashmutullah, Pakistan were 121 for 4 after 29.1 overs.

Rashid brought on to take a wicket saw Haris given out LBW, he was out for 27 from 57 and Pakistan were under some pressure on 142 for 5. With 8 overs remaining Pakistan needed 59 runs.

There was a lot of talk in the media about a possible 500 innings, that hasn’t happened and is unlikely to. This match was far more exciting than any runs fest.

Shinwari pulled in after a front line bowler went off injured bowled an over with just 2 runs for the 45th. Pakistan required 46 from 30 balls and the game was running way from them.

I know how happy this face will have been today!

Gulbadin brought himself on to bowl, his first ball, a full toss, was hit for Four by Imad. Imad took 19 from the over, including a wide. That left Pakistan needing 28 from 23 balls! And me shouting at the TV! Especially when Shadab was run out, another silly run! Shadab went for 11 and Pakistan were 206 for 7.

3 dot balls then a single from Mujeeb left Pakistan needing 17 from 14 balls. Wahab hit a mighty 6 from Rashidw’s bowling leaving Pakistan in need of 10 from 10 then 2 runs with no run out, 8 from 9!

Imad with a man of the match 29 from 54 Balls

Then 6 from 6 in the final over with Imad facing. And my goodness Gulbadin bowled that final over! 1 of the first ball, 1 from the second, a misfield and 2 from the third. 2 required from 3! And Imad, hit a FOUR from the fourth ball of the over. Well played Afghanistan, but, congratulations Pakistan. They’re still in this World Cup Imad scored 49 from 54 balls and Wahab 15 from 9 to lead their team to a win. What a great game of cricket! Worthy of a World Cup

The spirit of cricket

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