ISLAMABAD: Pakistan displayed a dominant performance in the final one-day international (ODI) against Afghanistan, securing a comprehensive victory that not only clinched the series but also propelled them to the top-ranking position. The Men in Green outclassed Afghanistan, who were unable to match their opponent’s prowess, setting the stage for a convincing win on Saturday.
Chasing a target of 269 runs set by Pakistan, Afghanistan’s batting lineup faltered, succumbing to the opposition’s bowling might as they were bowled out for 209 runs in 48.4 overs.
The star of the show was leg-spinner Shadab Khan, who showcased his skill by claiming 3 wickets for 42 runs in his 10-over spell. Contributing to Afghanistan’s downfall, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, and Shaheen Afridi each secured two wickets, adding to the team’s resounding victory.
In the lead-up to the final match of the series, Pakistan chose to bat after winning the toss, setting a challenging target of 269 runs for Afghanistan. The Men in Green demonstrated their batting prowess, finishing at 268-8 in their allotted 50 overs. The partnership of Mohammad Rizwan (67) and Babar Azam (60) bolstered Pakistan’s total, both players hitting half-centuries.
Pakistan’s captain, Babar Azam, expressed his pre-match strategy, highlighting the importance of the initial overs. “We will apply pressure on the Afghan team by setting a formidable target,” he stated. He further noted the incorporation of four changes in the playing eleven, with Saud Shakeel, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, and Mohammad Wasim Jr. making appearances in place of Usama Mir, Iftikhar Ahmed, Naseem Shah, and Haris Rauf.
On the opposing side, Afghanistan faced a setback as all-rounder Azmatullah Umarzai was sidelined from the match due to a side strain. In his stead, all-rounder Gulbadin Naib was brought in, as announced by the Afghanistan Cricket Board.
The encounter bore similarities to the previous match, with both teams fiercely contesting victory. In the end, Pakistan triumphed by a mere one wicket, showcasing their remarkable consistency. Naseem Shah, known for his previous heroics against the same rival in the Asia Cup 2022, once again proved instrumental in guiding Pakistan to victory in a tense final over, securing the much-needed 11 runs off the last 6 balls.
Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam (captain), Salman Ali Agha, Saud Shakeel, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Mohammad Nawaz.Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Faheem Ashraf, Shaheen Afridi.
Afghanistan: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Gulbadin Naib, Shahidullah Kamal , Riaz Hassan, Mohammad Nabi, Fareed Ahmad Malik, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Fazalhaq Farooqi.