Pakistan’s dominant bowling display secured a resounding 59-run win over Afghanistan, completing a 3-0 ODI series sweep. They also claimed the top spot in rankings, setting sights on the Asia Cup.
Pakistan’s bowling prowess shone brightly once again as they secured a commanding 59-run victory over Afghanistan, completing a clean sweep of the ODI series with a 3-0 scoreline. Their impressive performance not only cemented their dominance over their opponents but also propelled them to the top of the ODI rankings, positioning them just ahead of the impending Asia Cup.
Opting to bat first on a challenging Colombo wicket, Pakistan faced early struggles but managed to post a competitive total of 268 for 8, largely due to patient half-centuries from Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan. Afghanistan, however, faltered in their chase from the outset, failing to establish a solid opening partnership that they desperately needed. The pitch seemed to quicken under the evening lights, further complicating matters for the Afghan side.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman briefly injected some excitement into Afghanistan’s innings, notching the fastest fifty by an Afghan batter in ODIs, a rapid 37-ball 64. However, his valiant efforts were ultimately in vain as Afghanistan stumbled and were eventually bowled out for 209 in 48.4 overs. Shadab Khan emerged as the standout bowler for Pakistan, claiming 3 wickets for 42 runs.
Afghanistan’s pursuit of the 269-run target suffered a blow with a shaky start from their openers. Faheem Ashraf’s consistent line and length proved particularly challenging for the Afghan batsmen. Shaheen Shah Afridi’s deliveries also posed a significant threat, though his initial accuracy was a bit off. The Pakistan pace attack managed to dismantle Afghanistan’s top order, with the formidable partnership of Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmanullah Gurbaz only managing to contribute 5 runs off 26 balls this time, a stark contrast to their impressive performance in the previous match.
Despite Afghanistan’s struggle, Hashmatullah Shahidi and Riaz added a brief 30-run partnership for the third wicket, but it consumed a considerable 61 balls. The Pakistan bowlers maintained their discipline, keeping the pressure on and causing constant frustrations for the Afghan batsmen. Shadab Khan’s contributions with the ball were crucial in breaking key partnerships, and he played a pivotal role in dismantling Afghanistan’s middle order.
Afghanistan’s innings seemed to be heading for a swift conclusion as they slid to 97 for 7. However, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Shahidullah Kamal launched a resilient counterattack, putting together a 57-run partnership for the eighth wicket. Mujeeb’s fearless batting and his ability to seize opportunities caused headaches for the Pakistani bowlers. Despite his courageous efforts, Mujeeb’s dismissal for a hit-wicket marked the eventual end of Afghanistan’s innings.
Pakistan’s batting performance was a tale of two halves, with a slow start in the first 30 overs followed by a surge in the final 20, leading to a total of 268 for 8. Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan’s partnership of 110 runs for the third wicket was pivotal in steering Pakistan’s innings, though it came at the cost of 84 dot balls. Fakhar Zaman’s early aggression and Fazalhaq Farooqi’s bowling provided some early fireworks, while Gulbadin Naib’s entry into the attack led to crucial breakthroughs for Afghanistan.
In the end, Pakistan’s balanced bowling attack and their ability to adapt to challenging conditions paved the way for their convincing victory over Afghanistan. With this triumph, Pakistan claimed the ODI series sweep, gained the top spot in the ODI rankings, and built momentum as they approached the highly anticipated Asia Cup.