T20 World Cup: Asif Ali hits four sixes in an over to seal Pakistan win over Afghanistan | Cricket News

Pakistan beat Afghanistan by five wickets to maintain their 100 per cent start to the T20 World Cup after a thrilling contest in Dubai; Asif Ali smashed four sixes in an over to seal to win after Babar Azam’s half-century had underpinned the chase of 148

Last Updated: 29/10/21 8:11pm

Asif Ali's stunning 25no from seven balls took Pakistan to victory over Afghanistan

Asif Ali’s stunning 25no from seven balls took Pakistan to victory over Afghanistan

Babar Azam made a half-century before Asif Ali hit four sixes in an over to take Pakistan past Afghanistan to a dramatic third straight win at the T20 World Cup.

Chasing 148 to win, Pakistan seemed to be cruising to victory thanks to a 45-ball fifty from Babar (51 from 47 balls) but when the skipper was bowled by Rashid Khan, Afghanistan sensed an opportunity and that hope then turned to belief when Naveen-ul-Haq had Shoaib Malik caught behind in the next over.

That left Pakistan needing 24 from 12 deliveries to win. However, they needed just six of them as Asif (25no from seven) clubbed four maximums off Karim Janat (0-48) to maintain Pakistan’s 100 per cent start to the tournament.

Afghanistan’s disappointment came after they dragged themselves out of trouble with the bat thanks to an unbroken 71-run stand between Mohammed Nabi (35no from 32) and Gulbadin Naib (35no from 25) which took them from 76-6 to 147-6.

A similar fightback with the ball also proved in vain due to Asif’s impressive hitting but Afghanistan remain second in Group 2, four points behind Pakistan, after a win and a defeat from their first two games.

Afghanistan went against the grain in opting to bat first after winning the toss and that decision looked increasingly dubious as the powerplay went on and they found themselves 39-4 in the sixth over, with the top four all having come and gone.

A determination to play the big shots from the top order contributed to their downfall and, after a brief spell trying to rebuild from No 5, Janat (15) was the next to go attempting to clear the ropes to hand left-arm spinner Imad Wasim (2-25) a second wicket.

Shadab Khan then dismissed Najibullah Zadran with a fizzing googly that was nicked through to Mohammad Rizwan and with Afghanistan 76-6 in the 13th, Pakistan would have hoped to wrap up the innings quickly.

Instead, they found themselves on the receiving end of a bold counter-attack led by Gulbadin and assisted by captain Nabi, with the pair contributing nine boundaries between them and Gulbadin thumping a six as well, before Shaheen Shah Afridi (1-22) produced an excellent last over to keep them below 150.

The momentum gained through that partnership carried through to the start of the Pakistan innings with Mujeeb Ur Rahman (1-14) getting the early breakthrough for Afghanistan as Rizwan holed out to deep backward square.

Fakhar Zaman joined Babar in the middle and after a big six early on from the left-hander, the duo were able to do what Afghanistan’s batters failed to do and worked the ones and twos to progress the game in a relatively risk-free manner.

Mujeeb Ur Rahman bowled his four overs straight through and took 1-14

Mujeeb Ur Rahman bowled his four overs straight through and took 1-14

The partnership reached 53 before Fakhar (30 from 25) was trapped lbw by Nabi (1-36), the over after Rashid, who was held back until the 11th over, had seen his own lbw decision against Babar overturned on review.

Rashid (2-26) then claimed his 100th T20I wicket when he had Mohammad Hafeez (10 from 10) caught at the start of the 15th to keep Afghanistan in contention and by the end of the 18th, the game was back in the balance.

An eventful 17th over, Rashid’s last of the match, saw Shoaib Malik swing the leg-spinner high over the legside for six and Babar dropped in the covers a couple of balls later.

Babar Azam's half-century led Pakistan in the chase as they won their third straight game

Babar Azam’s half-century led Pakistan in the chase as they won their third straight game

The Pakistan captain did not make the most of the chance though as his otherwise cool and collected innings came to an end with a wild legside swipe to a Rashid googly that crashed into legs stump.

When Naveen (1-22) had Malik (19 from 15) caught from the fifth ball of a fine over that cost only two runs, the Afghanistan fans and players alike were exuberant in their celebrations and they could sense a famous win.

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That notion held no sway with Asif though as he pumped the first ball of the 19th over long off, swatted the third over deep midwicket and then powered the fifth back over Janat’s head as 24 from 12 became six from seven with tension replaced by Pakistani jubilation in the stands.

Asif gave them the big finish they were after with another stunning blow, this time over extra cover, to clinch a win that leaves Pakistan with one foot in the semi-finals.

Watch the T20 World Cup live on Sky between now and November 14.

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