After enduring back-to-back defeats against Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup, for India to stay alive in the tournament required three results to go their way, the first being the outcome of the Pakistan vs Afghanistan Super 4 tie on Wednesday at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. It was a long shot for Afghanistan to register their first win over Pakistan, but for a while, it did seem that would indeed be the case. Afghanistan were on the brink of pulling off the biggest heist in their cricketing history but their plans, and India’s hopes, were shattered by an unexpected hero in Naseem Shah.
The Pakistan pacer, who came into the contest with just 59 runs to his name, smoked two sixes off two balls in the last over to send his team into the final and break a billion Indian hearts. With Pakistan needing 11 off the last over, eventually bowled by Afghanistan’s star of the evening Fazalhaq Farooqi, and with only one wicket left, an upset seemed likely. But Naseem had other plans, and in only two deliveries, he ended whatever little hopes India had of making it to the final and slammed shut the door on any permutation and combination that could have aided the Men in Blue.
Watch Video: Naseem Shah hits two sixes in the last over vs Afghanistan as Pakistan win in dramatic style; India knocked out of Asia Cup
Naseem walked out after Haris Rauf’s dismissal, which was the third Pakistan wicket to fall in seven deliveries. With Rashid Khan getting the dangerous Shadab Khan out, and Farooqi picking up two wickets in the next over, Afghanistan had one foot inside the door. And stepped foot the second one when Fareed Ahmed removed Khushdil Shah and Asif Ali in the penultimate over of the match. But standing between Afghanistan and what could have been their most memorable win was Naseem, and for the first time in his young career, the 19-year-old made waves for his batting than bowling.
“Naseem’s sixes remind us of Miandad’s and Afridi’s last-over sixes. All our bowlers bat a lot in the nets. You never know which bowler will win you matches; all of them have the calibre to win you matches with the bat,” Shadab, adjudged Player of the Match, said during the post-match presentation ceremony.
With the win, Pakistan earned two more points, taking their total to 4 and thus sealed a place in the final where they will square off against Sri Lanka on Sunday. India are yet to register a single point in the Super 4, and although their campaign is over, they will play Afghanistan in a dead rubber on Thursday aiming to end the Asia Cup with a consolation prize. India still have nine limited-overs matches at home before they travel to Australia to play the T20 World Cup next month starting October 16.
Trending Topics to Follow