Afghanistan were inches close to registering their first win in ODIs against Pakistan. However, it was the experience of both sides that mattered at the end as Shoaib Malik steered Pakistan to a dramatic victory by three wickets with just three balls to spare.
Here is what we learned from Pakistan and Afghanistan encounter in Asia Cup 2018.
The reliable Malik
Shoaib Malik was instrumental in Pakistan’s success against Afghanistan on Friday. He kept his head cool despite constantly creeping required run-rate and losing partners from the other. He played a meticulous inning of 51 runs off 43 balls to get Pakistan over the line. Many experts termed Malik’s knock as Dhoni-sque inning. He is by far the best finisher in Pakistani side.
Imam denying his critiques
Since Imam Ul Haq got selected in Pakistan’s squad, he has been criticised for being a product of nepotism. However, Imam has maintained an impressive average of 67.60 so far and has scored four centuries and two half-centuries in his 12 matches. The left-handed batsman once again proved by playing a courageous 104-ball 80 runs inning under immense pressure that he belongs to this league.
Nawaz a handy option for Sarfraz
Mohammad Nawaz was very impressive against Afghanistan, dismissing three batsmen leaking 57 runs in his ten overs. He had to fill Shadab Khan shoes and he did it brilliantly. It opened an option to rest Haris Sohail and bring back Shadab Khan in the playing XI to beef up the bowling attack.
Shaheen can hunt
Shaheen Shah Afridi made his ODI debut against Afghanistan and he proved that he is ready for the highest level of cricket. He was unlucky to take only two wickets as catches were dropped off his bowling. He gave 37 runs in ten overs and took two wickets. Shaheen Shah Afridi has made it difficult for the think tank to decide whether to select Mohammad Amir in the playing XI or not.
Pakistan have got a strong bench
Pakistan made three changes against Afghanistan. They left out Mohammad Amir, injured Shadab Khan and Faheem and brought in Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Sohail and Mohammad Nawaz. Apart from Haris, the other two inclusions proved to be extremely fruitful for Pakistan. It showed that Pakistan have a strong bench and there are players in the hut who can come in and perform.