Asia Cup 6th Match: Afridi stars in heart-racing finish

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Afridi is over the moon after smashing the winning runs

Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi walloped a huge six off the third ball of the final over to lead his side to a heart-racing one-wicket win over India in Mirpur.

Afridi was well supported by fellow all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez, who scored a half-century and took two wickets, and spinner Saeed Ajmal, who claimed three victims.

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq would have been over the moon with his decision to bowl first as India opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan was given out lbw off the bowling of Mohammad Hafeez for 10 runs.

India skipper Virat Kohli only made five runs before he was caught behind off the bowling of Umar Gul.

Rohit Sharma kept India afloat with a brilliant knock of 56, which came off 58 balls and included seven boundaries and two sixes, before he was caught by Hafeez to give debutant Mohammad Talha his maiden ODI wicket.

Ajinkya Rahane scored 23 runs before he was caught by Hafeez at midwicket off the bowling of Talha.

Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik stabilised the innings with a 52-run partnership before Karthik was caught by Saeed Ajmal at short fine leg off the bowling of Hafeez for 23.

Rayudu and Ravindra Jadeja kept the runs flowing with a 59-run partnership, during which Rayudu brought up his half-century, before he was caught by Anwar Ali, who was the substitute fielder, at long-on off the bowling of Ajmal.

Rayudu’s excellent knock of 58 came off 62 balls and included four boundaries and a six.

Ravichandran Ashwin made nine runs before he was stumped by Umar Akmal off the bowling of Ajmal.

Ajmal struck again three balls later when Mohammed Shami was caught by Shoaib Maqsood at deep midwicket for a duck.

Jadeja finished on 52 off 49 balls, which included four boundaries and two sixes, as India ended up scoring 245/8 off their 50 overs.

Ajmal was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, while Hafeez and Talha snapped up two wickets apiece and Gul chipped in with one wicket as well.

Chasing 246 to win, Pakistan got off to a great start as their opening pair of Ahmed Shehzad and Sharjeel Khan amassed a 71-run partnership before Khan was clean bowled by Ashwin for 25.

Shehzad ended up making 42 before he was caught by Ashwin at short midwicket off the bowling of Amit Mishra.

Ul-Haq failed to have an impact with the bat as he was run out by Mishra for just one run.

Akmal only made four runs before he was caught by Jadeja off the bowling of Mishra.

Hafeez and Maqsood steadied the innings with an 87-run partnership, during which Hafeez brought up his half-century, before he was caught by Bhuvneshwar Kumar at deep square leg off the bowling of Ashwin.

Hafeez’s fantastic knock of 75 came off 117 balls and included three boundaries and two sixes.

Maqsood ended up making 38 runs before he was run out by Ashwin.

Gul scored 12 runs before he was caught by Rahane at long-off off the bowling of Kumar.

Kumar struck again three balls later as Talha was caught by Jadeja at long-off for a golden duck.

Ajmal was also on his way back to the pavilion for a golden duck after being clean bowled by Ashwin.

However, Afridi proved to be the hero for Pakistan as he smashed the second and third ball of the final over for six to help his side claw their way to a nail-biting one-wicket win.

Ashwin was the most successful bowler with three wickets, while Kumar and Mishra picked up two wickets each.

Kohli applauded his side’s effort, but admitted that the team should have scored “20-30” more runs.

“Not letting them get used to one bowler was the idea,” he said. “The guys put in a good effort after a modest total. Mishra was getting it to turn and I kept him for the end. Ashwin was confident of bowling in the death as well.”

Ul-Haq was ecstatic to have escaped with a narrow win over his arch-rivals, and said: “We knew there was a dew and we just wanted to keep ourselves in the game. I’d be happy to keep getting out if Pakistan win. We are not looking ahead to the final yet, just taking one game at a time.”

Hafeez edged out Afridi for the Man of the Match award, and said: “[I] Had a chat with Maqsood about playing normally because the run-rate was not too daunting. And then Shahid Afridi finished it in the end. [I] Want to dedicate the victory to the Pakistan people.”

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