Malik saves Pak the blushes

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 22 Sep 2018 11:28:46




SHOAIB Malik used all his experience and kept his cool till the end to help Pakistan edge out a threatening Afghanistan by three wickets in the Super Four match of the Asia Cup, here on Friday. Malik’s match-winning 43-ball half century (51*) saw Pakistan win the battle with three balls to spare. Needing 10 from the last over, Malik first hit a huge six off the second ball of Aftab Alam and the picked one from his legs towards square leg boundary to complete a fine win for Pakistan. Pakistan will now meet India in both the teams’ second match of Super Four on Sunday.

Pakistan had the worst possible start as they lost opener Fakar Zaman in the first over itself without opening account.However, Imam-ul Haq (80) and Babbar Azam (66) took control of the game with a solid stand of 154 runs for the second wicket. Pakistan were cruising well until Haq got run out in the 34th over.

A couple of overs later Azam too perished to Afghanistan’s premier spinner Rashid Khan. The double blow brought Afghans back in the game.But Pakistan’s middle order mainstay Malik and Haris Sohail (13) stitched back their innings gathering runs slowly. They added 36 runs for the fourth wicket. But Mujeeb-Ur Rahman broke the partnership to shift the game in Afghanistan’s control.

Malik waged a lone battle as he fell short of partners in the middle. Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed (8) and Asif Ali (7) both fell cheaply as the asking run rate mounted to nine runs per over. However, it was Malik’s day as he picked two bad deliveries from Alam in the last over to help his side cross the line.

Earlier, Hashmatullah Shahidi (97) missed out on his maiden ODI hundred by just three runs after skipper Asghar Afghan hit a combative 67 off 56 balls as Afghanistan scored a fighting 257 for six. Shahidi needed a boundary off the last ball to complete his century but Hasan Ali denied him the milestone with a incoming yorker which the left-hander could not put away.