COLOMBO - A collective bowling effort after Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan’s half-centuries, led Pakistan to the top of the ODI Rankings with a clean sweep victory in the PAK vs AFG ODI series.
Set to chase 269 in the third ODI, Afghanistan could only raise 209 despite Mujeeb Ur Rahman’s brisk half-century. The hosts got off to a dismal start to the pursuit as they lost their in-form batters Rahmanullah Gurbaz (5) and Ibrahim Zadran (0) in the 10th over with just 30 runs on the board.
Afghanistan’s new opener Riaz Hassan was then joined by captain Hashmatullah Shahidi and the pair raised 30 runs for the third-wicket stand. Riaz scored a cautious 34 off 66 deliveries while Shahidi scored a 31- ball 13. Afghanistan then lost three more wickets in quick succession and slipped to 97/7 in 32.1 overs with both Mohammad Nabi (3) and Rashid Khan (16) back into the dugout.
Coming out to bat at No 9, Mujeeb Ur Rahman launched a counterattack on the Pakistan bowlers with belligerent hitting. He put on an astonishing 57- run partnership with Shahidullah to keep Afghanistan in the hunt. Mujeeb dominated his eighth-wicket stand with Shahidullah by scoring the majority of the runs while the latter fell victim to Shadab Khan in the 40th over. Shahidullah struck two boundaries on his way to a 65-ball 37.
Mujeeb added 45 runs for the ninth-wicket stand with Fareed Ahmad before finally perishing in the 46th over. He top-scored for Afghanistan with a quickfire 37-ball 64. Shaheen then wrapped a dominant 59-run victory for Pakistan as he castled Fareed (17) in the penultimate over. Shadab led the bowling attack for Pakistan with 3/42 while Shaheen, Faheem and Nawaz bagged two each.
Opting to bat first, the green shirts accumulated 268/8 at the back of anchoring half-centuries by Babar and Rizwan. Pakistan’s opening pair of Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq failed to provide a solid start. Fakhar scored 27 off 33 deliveries while Imam struck 13. With the side reeling at 52/2 in 12.5 overs, Babar Azam was joined by Mohammad Rizwan and both added 110 runs amid their cautious stand with both scoring half-centuries before Rashid Khan provided a much-needed breakthrough to Afghanistan, dismissing the Pakistan captain.
He smashed four boundaries and a six on his way to an 86-ball 60. Pakistan then lost four quick wickets, including their mainstay M Rizwan, and slipped to 189/6 in 41 overs. Rizwan remained the top-scorer for Pakistan with a 79-ball 67 which featured six boundaries and a six. M Nawaz and Salman Ali Agha then stitched a vital 61-run partnership for the seventh wicket. Nawaz scored a brisk 25-ball 30 while Agha hammered a 31- ball 38. Fareed Ahmad and Gulbadin Naib bagged two wickets each for Afghanistan