In a nail-biting encounter between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the second ODI at Hambantota delivered a thrilling spectacle that will be remembered for years to come. Number ten batsman Naseem Shah emerged as the unlikely hero, smashing a boundary off the penultimate delivery to secure a dramatic one-wicket victory for Pakistan.
This remarkable win also propelled Pakistan to an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series, with the final match scheduled in Colombo on Saturday. Naseem Shah’s heroics capped off an intense chase for Pakistan, as they managed to reach 302-9 in 49.5 overs, overshadowing Afghanistan’s competitive total of 300-5.
Watch the clip here:
Afghanistan’s opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz had been the standout performer, recording a career-best run-a-ball 151, propelling his team to a competitive total. However, Pakistan’s spirited late surge, led by Shadab Khan’s boundary and six in the 49th over, turned the tide in their favour.
The last two overs of Pakistan’s chase were nothing short of gripping. Requiring 27 runs to win, Shadab Khan’s contributions were pivotal, but a Mankad dismissal of Shadab by Fazalhaq Farooqi in the final over brought another twist.
With tensions running high, Naseem Shah held his nerve and struck crucial boundaries off the first and fifth deliveries of the over, clinching the victory for Pakistan by a single wicket. This victory showcased the resilience of Pakistan’s team, with Shadab Khan’s 35-ball 48 and Imam-ul-Haq’s 91 providing crucial contributions.
A robust partnership between Imam-ul-Haq and skipper Babar Azam had set the foundation for Pakistan’s chase, but Afghanistan fought back valiantly, taking five wickets in quick succession to leave Pakistan struggling at 211-6. Earlier in the match, Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran’s opening partnership of 227 runs had given Afghanistan a strong start.
Gurbaz’s aggressive batting, marked by 14 boundaries and three sixes, along with Zadran’s steady 80, posed a significant challenge for Pakistan’s bowlers. However, Pakistan’s bowlers, led by Shaheen Shah Afridi, managed to break the partnership and contain Afghanistan’s run-scoring.
In the end, Naseem Shah’s remarkable boundary sealed Pakistan’s victory in a game filled with twists and turns. The match demonstrated the unpredictable nature of cricket and the resilience of both teams, leaving cricket enthusiasts eagerly anticipating the third ODI and final clash of the series.