4 Talking Points Of The Asia Cup 2022 Game: Pakistan Clench Win From Jaws Of Defeat From Afghanistan
Mohammad Nabi's men posted a meager total of 129/6 but made the target an uphill task for the Pakistan cricket team batters to get.
However, Pakistan's tail had just enough firepower to win a last-wicket thriller to set up the final against Sri Lanka. In arguably the most nail-biting contest of Asia Cup 2022, Pakistan clinched the game with just one wicket in hand, ending up with 131/9 in 19.2 overs.
World Witnesses Pakistan Cricket Team's Naseem ‘The All-Rounder' Shah
For anyone seeing Naseem bat in white-ball cricket, it was a major surprise to see him smack back-to-back sixes to the Afghanistan cricket team's premium bowler, Fazal Farooqui.
The 19-year-old, who is known as the young pace sensation for the Men in Green, came on the crease with Asif Ali, but the latter then departed after an eight-ball cameo with 16 runs.
With 11 needed off the last six deliveries, Pakistan fans did not have much hope to see their tailenders win the game, but Naseem hit two sixes on the long-off region off two juice full tosses.
Perhaps, not the best two balls that a seamer can bowl in the final over, but this doesn't take away any credit from Naseem who held his nerves when the opposition didn't.
In the post-match interview, former Indian star-turned commentator, Ravi Shastri joked with the Pakistan star about how he will now be referred to as an all-rounder instead of just a bowler.
Naseem's 14* (4) and 1/19 with the ball speak volumes of his importance in the Pakistan cricket team, especially in the absence of Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Pakistan Cricket Team's Shadab Shows How To Tackle Spin
From the get-go in the second inning, Pakistan seemed to have a plan of attack: Be cautious with spinners and attack the fast bowlers.
This was not fruitful for them since Afghanistan relied on three spinners, which covers 12 of the 20 overs and eight overs are insufficient to overcome the slow run rate in the remaining overs.
Mohammad Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed were kept in check by Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, and Mujeeb Khan, both ending their innings with a low strike rate.
It was until Shadab walked on who took the spinners to cleaners, starting the onslaught with Nabi, whom he hit for a six and a four in the first over he faced.
The Pakistan vice-captain then struck a mammoth six to Mujeeb over the long-on region, then another six to Rashid before falling to him at 36 (26).
Although he departed in his 30s, he brought the target within touching distance for the now Asia Cup finalists or else even Naseem's blows may not have been enough to clinch the win.
Shadab, who also had figures of 1/27, was the Man of the Match for his all-around performance.
Nothing Beyond The Opening Duo For Afghanistan Cricket Team
Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Hazratullah Zazai opened the innings in a flurry, disrespecting the seamer and creaming the ball all around the park.
But when their innings came to an end just before the powerplay, the run rate significantly dropped.
Ibrahim Zadran and Karim Jannat never showed the heart to strike big or at least score eight runs every score to make hay of the blistering start of the openers.
This has been the case in Afghanistan for some time. They rely on the likes of Nabi or Najibullah Zadran in the middle order to smack big runs.
This leaves a vacuum in the middle overs with the majority of runs coming in the powerplay and at death only.
They need to put Zadran up a number because Ibrahim has not been helping their cause at all. The latter batter has a knack for scoring singles and doubles mostly, which is an amazing ability in any batsman, but in ODIs mostly.
A slow approach in today's era of T20 cricket has no place for ticking the ball around for singles when other batters are happy scoring boundaries.
A few overs conceding low scores put pressure on the Afghanistan batters after 12 overs against Pakistan, and they panicked. This allowed the Pakistan spinners to keep them in check, take wickets and restrict them to a low total.
Had Afghanistan scored 15-20 more runs in the middle, the quality of their bowling would have delivered the goods in the second innings.
Nervy Moments Get The Better Of Afghanistan Cricket Team's Stars
The international arena is all about pressure regardless of the opposition at times. Sometimes, the playing teams are evenly matched in every department and the team that handles the nervy moments the best takes home the game.
A similar Situation Occurred In The Pakistan Vs Afghanistan Contest.
The game was done and dusted for Babar Azam's men with every batsman dismissed and big hits needed in the final over.
Fazalhaq Farooqui had dismissed the Pakistan captain on a duck in his opening over, then scalped Mohammad Nawaz's wicket and dismissed Khusdhil Shah too.
He was sitting pretty with figures of 3/19 in his 3 overs until the two balls changed the context of the game.
The IPL star had been delivering perfect slower balls, bouncers, and yorkers throughout the game but could not keep his nerves calm when it mattered the most.
He bowled two full tosses to a confident Naseem Shah, who confided in his six-hitting abilities, and had nerves of steel as he hit both maximums cleanly to get his team over the line.
It was the same scenario with the bat for Nabi's unit. In the death overs, they couldn't judge either Naseem, Hasnain, or Haris Rauf's variations. Apart from Rashid Khan, who got 10 runs in the final over of Rauf, no other batter could even middle the ball in the last six overs.
Including Nabi, the Afghanistan batting line-up tumbled with the bat like a pack of cards.
They fell into Pakistan's trap of creating pressure through dot balls and never seemed to take the attack back to Azam's pace cartel.
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