Pakistan win thriller; set up final against Sri Lanka

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In a dramatic finish in Sharjah, No.10 batter Naseem Shah slammed two sixes off the first two balls of the final over to seal Pakistan a win against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup.

For the third time in four games, Afghanistan’s openers started off all guns blazing, with Rahmanullah Gurbaz leading the charge. Wayward lines from Mohammad Hasnain in the second over saw Gurbaz capitalise and hit him for back-to-back sixes to end the over.

Pakistan countered Gurbaz with more pace, this time in the form of Haris Rauf. Hazratullah Zazai took him on for two fours, but he was saved by a tough dropped chance from Naseem Shah while attempting another big heave. Rauf, however, found success at the other end with the big wicket of Gurbaz, cleaning him up with a delivery angling into the right-hander.

After attacking Afghanistan with extreme pace early on, Pakistan resorted to the spin duo of Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan to tie them down in the middle overs. The plot worked as Afghanistan batters struggled to score with little pace on the ball.

Nawaz bowled his four overs on the trot, sending back Karim Janat for 15, while Shadab dismissed the dangerous Najibullah Zadran for 10.

Naseem Shah, meanwhile, returned to the attack and sent back skipper Mohammad Nabi, playing his 100th T20I, for a golden duck. Ibrahim Zadran fought for Afghanistan with a hard-working 35, but eventually edged one off the impressive Rauf to depart in the 17th over.

Some lusty blows late in the game from Rashid Khan gave Afghanistan something to cheer about, but a total of 129 wasn’t something to write home about.

Brief scores:

Afghanistan: 129/6 (Ibrahim 35, Rauf 2-26, Naseem 1-19)

Pakistan: 131/9 (Shadab 36, Fareed 3-31, Farooqi 3-31)