Chennai, Oct 23: In a must win situation, Pakistan braved conditions to set a competitive 283-run target against neighbours Afghanistan in the 22nd match of the ICC ODI World Cup 2023.
In reply, Afghanistan were 156/1 in 26 overs. Opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz was out for 65 (53 balls), caught Usama Mir, bowled pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Earlier, putting all apprehensions of Afghanistan spinners dominating and restricting Pakistan in a turning track, Babar Azam & Co scored 282/7 in the allotted 50 overs.
Skipper Azam top scored with 74, while opener Abdullah Shafique (58), Saud Shakeel (25), Sadab Khan (40) and Iftikhar Ahmed (40) played useful knocks.
Among the Afghanistan bowlers, young left-arm wrist spinner Noor Ahmed with an impressive 3/49 figure topped the bowling chart. Right arm fast Naveen-ul-Haq (2/52) in his 7 overs spell was noticeable.
Mohammad Nabi and Azmatullah Omarzai too claimed one wicket each. Seasoned pro Rashid Khan in his 10 overs, though was economical giving away only 41 runs, but Pakistan batters did well to keep him wicket-less.
At the start of the innings, Pakistani opener Imam-ul-Haq did not last long. Trying to pull pacer Azmatullah Omarzai, he was caught by Naveen-ul-Haq at mid-wicket for 17 in 22 balls.
The other opener Abdullah Shafique made a compact 58. Pakistan would have loved to see him anchor the innings till end, but he misjudged a Noor Ahmed delivery, only to be sent back with a LBW verdict.
Dependable middle order batter and vice captain Mohd Rizwan was positive from the very start. But while trying to play his favourite sweep shot against Noor Ahmed, he offered a regulation catch to Mujeeb Ur Rahman at short fine leg. Rizwan returned back with only 8 runs contributions.
Saud Shakeel (25 in 34 balls) was out caught by Rashid Khan off Mohammad Nabi.
Skipper Babar Azam too fell to Noor Ahmad's trap, as he offered a catch at extra cover to Mohammad Nabi. Babar, who rescued Pakistan from a tricky situation, departed after making a solid 74 in 92 balls with four 4s and one 6.
Lower middle order batters Sadab Khan and Iftikhar Ahmed played sensibly and applied themselves well to ensure that Pakistan does not face sudden collapse. Jointly they both hit three boundaries and five sixes.
Pakistan included four spinners in their playing XI, considering the advantage turners enjoy in the spin-friendly track, here.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz, (wicketkeeper), Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi (captain), Azmatullah Omarzai, Ikram Alikhil, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Naveen-ul-Haq and Noor Ahmad.
Abdullah Shafique, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan( wicketkeeper), Saud Shakeel, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Usama Mir, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali and Haris Rauf.