Half-centuries by Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmat Shah helped Afghanistan cause another big sensation in the ICC Men's ODI World Cup, by beating Pakistan by eight wickets with six balls to spare for their first win against their neighbours, at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, here on Monday.
Opener Gurbaz struck a 53-ball 65 while his partner Zadran anchored the innings with a 113-ball 87 as they raised 130 runs for the first wicket. Rahmat Shah, who scored an unbeaten 77 off 84 deliveries and shared an unbeaten 86-run partnership for the third wicket with skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi (48 not out), played a key role as Afghanistan reached 286/2 in 49 overs after restricting Pakistan to 282/7 in 50 overs.
This is Afghanistan's second upset in this tournament after they stunned defending champions England by 69 runs a few days back. This was their highest-ever chase in ODI history.
This is Afghanistan's second win in five matches in this event and takes them to four points, the same as Australia and Pakistan. However, Australia are in fourth position on better Net Run Rate while Pakistan are fifth, leaving Afghanistan occupying the sixth position among 10 teams.
Electing to bat, Pakistan were restricted to 282/7 in their 50 overs thanks mainly to a 92-ball 74 by skipper Babar Azam and a 75-ball 58 by opener Abdullah Shafique. Babar completed his fifty in 69 balls, hitting three fours.
Shadab Khan scored a 38-ball 40 (1x4, 1x6) while Iftikhar Ahmed blasted a 27-ball 40 (2x4, 4x5) to give the score some respectability after the Pakistan middle-order failed to capitalise on the platform provided by Shafique and skipper Babar Azam.
Left-arm spinner Noor Ahmad claimed 3-49 off his 10 overs while pacer Naveen-ul-Haq bagged 2-52 off seven but it was spinners Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan who applied the brakes on the Pakistan innings in the middle overs.
Chasing 283, Afghanistan got off to a brilliant start as Gurbaz and Zadran laid a solid foundation as they raised 130 runs for the opening wicket in 21.1 overs. Gurbaz struck nine fours and one six in his breezy innings while Zadran, who reached 50 in 54 balls, was more circumspect towards the end as he hit 10 boundaries. Gurbaz blazed to his fifty in 38 balls, hitting nine fours.
Rahmat Shah took over the mantle of guiding Afghanistan to victory as he reached his half-century off 57 balls. He added Zadran added 60 runs for the second wicket. Shah then raised a superb 96 runs for the unfinishing third wicket partnership as he and skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi guided Afghanistan to victory.
Pakistan's bowlers were listless as none of them, including Shaheen Shah Africa could make much impression on the batters. Afridi finished with 1=58.
This is Pakistan's third defeat in five matches in this World Cup.