Babar Azam and Wahab Riaz shine but Pakistan lose to Afghanistan in World Cup warm-up

Waseem Ahmed 22:27 24/05/2019
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Afghanistan celebrate their warm-up win over Pakistan.

Pakistan were hoping to get back to winning ways in the 50-over format but their opening 2019 World Cup warm-up clash against Afghanistan ended in more heartbreak as the Afghans emerged victorious by three wickets in Bristol on Friday.

Sarfraz Ahmed’s team entered the tournament on the back of a horrendous run – 10 ODI defeats in a row that included a 4-0 sweep by England. Afghanistan were seen as a dangerous yet manageable opposition but that wasn’t the case as the spirited Afghans chased down Pakistan’s total of 262 all out in 47.5 overs with three wickets and two balls in hand.

Pakistan batted first and posted a below part total which was powered by a fine 112 off 108 balls from star batsman Babar Azam and veteran Shoaib Malik scoring 44 off 59. However, the slow scoring rate of the entire line-up apart from Babar meant Pakistan never threatened to breach the 300-run mark. What’s more, they failed to bat out the 50 overs.

For Afghanistan, spinners Rashid Khan (2-27) and Mohammad Nabi (3-46) did the bulk of the damage at the top while veteran fast bowlers Dawlat Zadran (2-37) and Hamid Hasan (1-31) provided good support to give their team’s already potent bowling some serious edge going into the main tournament.

In reply, Afghanistan were off the blocks in a flash as Hazratullah Zazai blasted 49 off 28. After 10 overs, Afghanistan were 78-0 and on their way to victory. But left-arm spinner Imad Wasim (2-29 from 10 overs) and young quick Mohammad Hasnain (1-34 from six) gave them a semblance of control.

As the chase went down to the wire, experienced left-arm quick Wahab Riaz returned to shock Afghanistan with sizzling pace and reverse swinging yorkers to take two wickets in 48th over as the Afghans needed 14 from 12 balls.

But a poor penultimate over by leggie Shadab Khan took the pressure off and Afghanistan emerged victorious. Hashmatullah Shahidi steered the chase with an unbeaten 74.

For Pakistan, not only did Mohammad Amir yet again go wicketless, fellow left-armer Shaheen Afridi had another poor outing – going for 51 runs from six overs. In the ODI series against England, Shaheen went for more than 80 runs in three successive matches and his latest effort will only add to Sarfraz’s woes.

BRIEF SCORES

Pakistan 262 in 47.5 overs

Babar Azam: 112 (108)

Mohammad Nabi: 3-46

Afghanistan 263-7 in 49.4 overs

Hashmatullah Shahidi: 74*

Wahab Riaz: 3-46

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