In a stunning turn of events at the Cricket World Cup, Afghanistan showcased a remarkable display of batting and bowling prowess to secure a resounding eight-wicket victory over Pakistan.
The pursuit of a formidable 283-run target saw Afghanistan’s stellar performance, driven by Ibrahim Zadran’s commanding 87, the unwavering Rahmat Shah’s 77 not out, and Rahmanullah Gurbaz’s dynamic 65. They reached a total of 286-2 within 49 overs, sealing their remarkable triumph.
Pakistan, in their turn at the crease, managed to post 282-7 over 50 overs, with a notable contribution of 74 runs from their skipper, Babar Azam, and an admirable 58 from opener Abdullah Shafique. However, this total ultimately proved insufficient in the face of Afghanistan’s clinical display.
Skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi, delivering a composed 45-ball 48 not out, struck the decisive boundary, propelling Afghanistan to a victory that surpasses their previous highest One Day International (ODI) chase of 274 against the UAE in Dubai back in 2014.
This victory stands as Afghanistan’s inaugural win over Pakistan in eight ODIs, arriving just a week after their remarkable triumph against defending champions England in Delhi.
Hashmatullah Shahidi expressed, “This win tastes nice. The way we chased was very professional, and the manner in which we executed it will undoubtedly bolster our performance in future matches. We are consistently demonstrating quality cricket, and at the commencement of the tournament, I conveyed my aspiration to make it a historic event for our nation and our people. We achieved that against England and have now done so today against Pakistan.”
This defeat leaves Pakistan’s World Cup campaign in disarray, with three losses in five games and an arduous match against South Africa awaiting them at the same venue on Friday.
In stark contrast, Afghanistan’s campaign receives a glimmer of hope with two victories in five matches, and they look ahead to facing a struggling Sri Lanka in Pune on Sunday.
Pakistan skipper Babar Azam expressed his disappointment, remarking, “That really hurt us. We posted a good total, but our bowling performance was not up to the mark.”
The resounding win was met with celebratory gunfire, jubilation, and fireworks throughout the Afghan capital of Kabul, resonating for at least 15 minutes following the conclusion of the match.
This triumph occurs during a period of strained political and diplomatic relations between the neighboring nations.
In the field, Pakistan displayed a lackluster performance, conceding boundaries easily, especially during the partnership of openers Zadran and Gurbaz, who propelled their side to 100 runs in just the 16th over.
This formidable opening pair amassed 130 runs by the 22nd over, and it was only a miscued shot from Gurbaz off Shaheen Shah Afridi that yielded Pakistan their first wicket.
Gurbaz’s explosive 53-ball innings featured nine boundaries and a six, while Zadran’s composed knock saw him accumulate ten boundaries in his 113 deliveries at the crease before he was caught behind by Hasan Ali, leaving Afghanistan with 93 more runs to secure.
Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi ensured Afghanistan’s consistency at the crease, successfully guiding their team to victory.
Rahmat’s 84-ball stay was marked by five fours and two sixes.
In the earlier innings, Pakistan’s captain Babar Azam played a masterful half-century, directing his team to a competitive total after winning the toss and choosing to bat first.
Azam’s 92-ball innings was complemented by Shafique’s patient 75-ball 58, while Shadab Khan and Iftikhar Ahmed made crucial contributions of 40 runs each.
The Chidambaram Stadium pitch, conducive to spin, saw Afghanistan fielding four slow bowlers, with 18-year-old left-arm spinner Noor Ahmad delivering a career-best performance of 3-49 on his World Cup debut.
Shadab Khan orchestrated a rapid 73-run partnership with Iftikhar Ahmed for the sixth wicket, allowing Pakistan to amass 61 runs in the final five overs, with Shadab falling off the last delivery.
Iftikhar powerfully struck four sixes and two fours, while Shadab’s innings featured a six and a four.
Pakistan initiated their innings with a strong opening partnership, which amounted to 56 runs before Azmatullah Omarzai dismissed Imam-ul-Haq for 17 in the 11th over.
Noor Ahmad claimed his first wicket by dismissing Shafique for 58 in the 23rd over. Shafique’s innings featured two sixes and five fours, marking his third half-century of the World Cup.
Ahmad further disrupted Pakistan’s momentum when he trapped the top-scorer in the World Cup, Mohammad Rizwan, through a caught-sweep in his subsequent over, leaving Pakistan at 120-3.
Azam, who had been a pillar of stability, fell to Ahmad, with an unconventional shot leading to his dismissal, as he directed the ball straight into the hands of Mohammad Nabi at extra cover. Azam had formed a critical 43-run partnership with Saud Shakeel, who contributed 25 runs.
Remarkably, Afghan spinner Rashid Khan remained wicketless during his 10 overs but was economical, conceding just 41 runs, while pacer Naveen-ul-Haq secured 2-52.