Afghanistan records another upset at World Cup, beats Pakistan by eight wickets

Rahmat Shah and captain Hashmatullah Shahidi built on the solid first-wicket stand by sharing an unbeaten 96-run third-wicket stand

Afghanistan records another upset at World Cup, beats Pakistan by eight wickets

CHENNAI: Afghanistan created another big upset at the Cricket World Cup as it thumped struggling Pakistan by eight wickets on Monday to win two games at the same edition of the tournament for the first time.

After stunning England eight days ago, the ninth-ranked Afghans celebrated only their third-ever win at the World Cup, the other coming against Scotland in 2015 in their first appearance.

An aggressive 130-run opening stand between Ibrahim Zadran (87) and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (65) orchestrated Afghanistan’s 286-2 in 49 overs against out-of-sort Pakistan’s pace and spin bowling.

Rahmat Shah and captain Hashmatullah Shahidi built on the solid first-wicket stand by sharing an unbeaten 96-run third-wicket stand. Shah remained unbeaten on 77 while Shahidi scored 48 not out as he raised the victory with a boundary against Shaheen Afridi at square leg.

"At the start of the tournament we said that we are going to make this World Cup historic for our country. First it was England and now Pakistan," Shahidi said. "This win tastes nice. The way we chased today, it was very professional."

Pakistan, which won the toss and elected to bat, made 282-7 against a spin-heavy quartet with captain Babar Azam (74) and Abdullah Shafique (58) scoring half centuries.

 "They hurt us," Babar said. "We had a good total, but in the bowling we were not up to the mark. All credit to the Afghanistan team, the way they played. We couldn’t take wickets in the middle overs and our bowlers didn’t hit the right lengths – especially spinners."

The jubilant Afghanistan players were applauded by the crowd at the Chidambaram Stadium as they took the victory lap with star legspinner Rashid Khan having the country’s flag wrapped around his shoulder.

It was Pakistan’s first loss in an ODI against Afghanistan, which bettered its previous highest successful ODI chase of 274 made against United Arab Emirates nine years ago.
                    A third successive loss pushed Pakistan into a must-win situation for a place in the semifinals with only four points from five matches. Afghanistan also kept its slim hopes alive with four points in as many games as moved into the No. 6 spot, behind Pakistan on net run-rate, leaving England at the bottom of the table.

Pakistan has struggled to make up for the absence of Naseem Shah after the fast bowler was ruled out for the tournament due to shoulder injury.

The pace trio of Shaheen Afridi, Hasan Ali and Haris Rauf couldn’t strike early and let Gurbaz and Zadran score at a brisk pace in the powerplay.
The selection of two legspinners – Shadab Khan and Usama Mir – also backfired as both spinners bowled plenty of full tosses and couldn’t find their lengths.

Gurbaz finally got out when he tried to slice Afridi in his return spell, but the century partnership had already raised Afghanistan's hopes of striking another upset.

  Zadran looked set for a century before Hasan found an outside edge but the spinners continued to leak runs with Shahidi and Shah rotating strike at ease before taking Afghanistan home to a memorable win with an over to spare.

 Babar’s watchful 92-ball knock gave Pakistan an ideal platform to launch in the death overs through the power-hitting of Iftikhar Ahmed, who made 40 off 27 balls with four sixes and two fours as Shadab Khan also contributed a meaningful 40.

The inclusion of 18-year-old leftarm spinner Noor Ahmad kept even Babar quiet on a slow dry wicket as the wrist spinner grabbed 3-49 in his debut World Cup match.

 Shafique showed some aggression in the powerplay, hitting two sixes and five boundaries before the spinners dried up the runs. Ahmad had two quick wickets when he got Shafique trapped leg before wicket and Pakistan’s top-scorer in the tournament Mohammad Rizwan top-edged a sweep after scoring only eight.

Mohammad Nabi (1-31) bowled an economical spell of 10 overs and accounted for the wicket of Saud Shakeel before Ahmad had Babar caught at extra cover in the 42nd over.

Shadab and Iftikhar then added a quickfire 73 for the sixth-wicket stand against the fast bowlers as they plundered 61 runs off the last five overs, which in the end were just not enough against the clinical Afghans.-

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