Asia Cup 8th Match: Shehzad and Afridi star in record chase


Images courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Shehzad and Afridi’s heroics helped Pakistan chase down their highest total in ODI history

Pakistan opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad scored a spectacular century and all-rounder Shahid Afridi blasted a rapid half-century to help Pakistan chase down their highest total in ODI history and set up a clash with Sri Lanka in the final.

Shehzad and Afridi were brilliantly supported by batsman Fawad Alam, who also smashed a half-century.

Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim would have been jumping for joy over his decision to bat first as the team’s opening pair of Imrul Kayes and Anamul Haque amassed a brilliant 150-run partnership, during which both batsmen brought up their half-centuries, before Kayes was caught behind off the bowling of Mohammad Talha.

Kayes’ fantastic knock of 59 came off 75 balls and included five boundaries and two sixes.

Anamul and Mominul Haque kept the runs flowing with a 54-run partnership, during which Anamul Haque brought up his second ODI century, before he was caught by Shehzad at deep midwicket off the bowling of Saeed Ajmal.

Haque’s outstanding innings of 100 came off 132 deliveries and included six boundaries and four sixes.

Mominul Haque ended up making 51 off 47 balls, which included six boundaries, before he was caught by Mohammad Hafeez at deep square leg off the bowling of Ajmal.

Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan, who was returning after his three-match ban, put together a last-gasp 77-run partnership to help Bangladesh finish on an impressive total of 326/3.

Rahim went on to score 51 off 33 balls, which included eight boundaries, while Al Hasan remained unbeaten on 44 off just 16 deliveries, which included six boundaries and two sixes.

Ajmal was the pick of the bowlers with two wickets, while Talha chipped in with one.

Chasing a mammoth target of 327 to win, Pakistan got off to a brilliant start as Hafeez and Shehzad amassed a 97-run partnership, during which Hafeez brought up his half-century, before he was caught by Kayes at long-on off the bowling of Mominul Haque.

Hafeez’s excellent knock of 52 came off 55 balls and included eight boundaries.

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq only made four runs before he was clean bowled by Al Hasan.

Shoaib Maqsood failed to have an impact as well as he was caught behind off the bowling of Haque for two runs.

Shehzad and Alam stabilised the innings with a 105-run partnership, during which Shehzad registered his fifth ODI century, before he was clean bowled by Abdur Razzak for 103 off 123 balls, which included 12 boundaries and a six.

Abdur Rehman only made eight runs before he was caught by Ziaur Rahman at long-on off the bowling of Mahmudullah.

Afridi and Alam steadied the innings with a 69-run partnership, during which both batsmen brought up their half-centuries, before Afridi was run out by Al Hasan for 59 off 25 balls, which included two boundaries and an incredible seven sixes.

Alam ended up making 74 off 70 deliveries, which included four boundaries and two sixes, before he was also run out, but only by Al-Amin Hossain.

Pakistan wicketkeeper Umar Akmal sealed the deal for Pakistan off the second-last ball of the match as he smashed the delivery to the midwicket boundary to hand his team a historic three-wicket win.

Mominul Haque was the most successful bowler with two wickets, while Al Hasan, Razzak and Mahmudullah picked up one wicket each.

Rahim was still in shock at what he had witnessed, and said: “We got a good start from the openers and we finished the batting well too. But when Afridi plays like that, he hit our best bowler Shakib for three sixes in an over, there was very little we can do.

“[We] were hoping for a mis-hit and unfortunately he dropped one but thankfully he was out soon after. We bowled a few length balls at the wrong time but overall we played much better than the last few games and we can take a lot of positives from this game.”

Ul-Haq was delighted to have reached the finals once again, and said: “He’s [Afridi] really playing well and he’s cashing into his form which is really good for us. Everybody knows the kind of players he is when he is in full swing and nobody can stop him. That’s really encouraging, we’ve been playing well in chases and this will give us great confidence in the coming games and years also.

“We have been playing a lot of cricket here and when the ball starts going, you can’t stop it. We have a world class bowling attack and even they couldn’t stop it so we knew we can score 10 an over if needed.

“We have quite a few things in our mind. We didn’t want to lose the game, 260 was also on our mind and we had to distribute our batsmen and that’s why we changed the line-up.”

Afridi was named Man of the Match for his blazing knock towards the end, and said: “I tried my level best to perform well. Misbah has great support and it’s my type of situation and I had the licence. I was confident that 10, 10.5 an over was possible so I took a chance. I have to congratulate Bangladesh for the score they put up. We need to do better with the ball.

“[Who is your batting coach] None, no one. Moin bhai supports me. I knew if I slog I will hit it because it was a very good pitch.”

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