Shoaib Malik the hero as Pakistan deny Afghanistan in Asia Cup
Pakistan survive scare to win opening Super Four game in Abu Dhabi as they prepare for rematch with India on Sunday
Shoaib Malik drew all his experience to get Pakistan over the line against Afghanistan in a last-over thriller in the Asian Cup Super Four round opener at the Zayed Cricket stadium in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
Pakistan needed 10 runs in the final over bowled by Aftab Alam, and Malik, hoisted the paceman’s second delivery over the mid-wicket fence for a six and pulled the next to the square-leg boundary for his side to emerge winners by three wickets with three balls to spare.
Malik hit three fours and a six in his 43-ball unbeaten 51 after Imam ul Haq and Babar Azam had each stroked half centuries.
Afghanistan must now beat Bangladesh on Sunday in Abu Dhabi to keep alive any realistic hope of reaching the final, while Pakistan go up against India in Dubai on the same day.
Hashmatullah Shahidi's unbeaten 97 was the backbone of Afghanistan's innings after Asghar Afghan had won the toss and chosen to bat.
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Stands of 63 for the third wicket with Rahmat Shah (36) and then 94 for the fourth wicket with Afghan (67) set them up for 257-6 from their 50 overs.
Afghanistan had then had a dream start in the field when Mujeeb Ur Rahman trapped Fakhar Zaman leg before to the sixth ball of the innings without a run on the board.
But, Imam-ul-Haq (80) and Babar Azam (66) appeared to have Pakistan cruising to victory as they put on 154 for the second wicket.
But the pair fell 10 balls apart to give the Afghans hope. Imam was run out and Azam was the first of Rashid Khan's (3-46) hat-trick of victims.
Despite the presence of Malik, Pakistan's batsmen toiled and struggled for boundaries as the run-rate grew.
Rashid also dismissed Asif Ali (7) and Mohammad Nawaz (10), but Pakistan stayed cool to prevail.
Updated: September 22, 2018 12:19 AM