Pakistan win to line up semi-final place

·3-min read

Pakistan have made it three T20 World Cup wins from three with victory against Afghanistan in Dubai.

Having already beaten India and New Zealand, and with only matches against minnows Scotland and Namibia to come, Pakistan are almost certain to finish top of group 2 and book a semi-final place.

Pakistan's bowlers set up their Friday's success, taking four wickets in the power play before going on to limit Afghanistan to 6-147.

Whilst Afghanistan briefly threatened an upset in an increasingly tense finish, Pakistan held their nerve to win with five wickets and an over to spare, Asif Ali thumping four sixes in the penultimate over from Karim Janat.

"The boundary was small from this end so I told my partner I'd go for it," Asif said. "Thank God we pulled it off."

"Afghanistan have some of the best spinners, they were getting a lot of help and bowling really well," Pakistan captain Babar Azam, who scored 51, said.

"I wanted to stay till the end but got out unfortunately. So credit to Asif Ali.

"Asif has played many such innings at the Pakistan Super League. I was very confident he'd get us out of any trouble," Babar added.

"We didn't start really well, the total on the board was decent but maybe not enough," Nabi said after their first loss of the tournament.

"There are many positives to take from this match. We fought to the end and it's given us more motivation to win games."

Afghanistan's Mohammed Nabi said: "We didn't start really well, the total on the board was decent but maybe not enough.

"There are many positives to take from this match. We fought to the end and it's given us more motivation to win games."

This was one of the most-keenly anticipated matches locally and the atmosphere was electric. But such was the demand there were still thousands outside the ground when the match began, and by the time many of them had got in the contest seemed to be effectively over.

Afghanistan's batters went hard and early, and paid for it losing wickets in the second, third, fifth and sixth overs, all caught.

It was not until Nabi and Gulbadin Naib came together at 6-76 that the innings gained some stability.

The pair consolidated, then cut loose taking 43 off the last three overs, both finishing with 35 not out, Gulbadin off 25 balls, Nabi 32.

Mujeeb Ur Rahman made an early breakthrough, dismissing Mohammad Rizwan in his four over spell for 14 runs, but Pakistan looked on course for a relatively comfortable win at 1-72 off ten overs when Rashid Khan was finally introduced.

He and Nabi quickly took three wickets between them, including Babar, bowled having a wild swing at Rashid's last ball for 51, one ball after being dropped.

That changed the mood and when Naveen-ul-Haq had Shoaib Malik caught for 19 Pakistan needed 24 off 13 balls with two new batters at the crease.

However, just as Afghanistan fans began dreaming of a famous triumph, Asif Ali took aim at the medium pace of Karim Janat.

He cleared the long-off boundary off the first ball, the midwicket boundary off the third ball and powered another six down the ground off the fifth ball.

He then crunched Janat's sixth ball for six over extra cover to complete a seven-ball 25 and Pakistan's victory.

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