Afghanistan batter Rahmanullah Gurbaz’s run-a-ball 151 went in vain as Pakistan on half-centuries by opener Imam-ul Haq and skipper Babar Azam and a crucial 48 by Shadab Khan to win a last-over thriller for a one-wicket win in the second ODI here on Thursday.
Pakistan took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the ODI series against Afghanistan with a nail-biting win in a match that produced 602 runs, the highest match aggregate involving the two teams in ODIs.
In the death overs of the second innings which was filled with one dramatic moment after another, Pakistan managed to hold their nerve to win the second ODI by the barest of margins – with a ball and a wicket to spare.
Naseem Shah was once again the tormentor for Afghanistan as he snatched away what could have been their maiden ODI win against Pakistan.
Earlier in the day, Afghanistan were helped to a solid total of 300/5, courtesy of a brilliant 151 from Gurbaz. This was their highest total against their regional rivals, Pakistan.
Gurbaz’s knock, which included 14 boundaries and three sixes, saw him take the Pakistan attack to the cleaners. Together with Ibrahim Zadran (80), he added 227 runs for the first wicket, Afghanistan’s second-highest partnership for any wicket.
This was the highest score by an Afghanistan batter against Pakistan and was also the first-ever century by an Afghanistan player against the nation. Their previous highest individual effort was Hashmatullah Shahidi’s unbeaten 97.
This was Gurbaz’s fifth ODI ton, and it came in merely 23 innings. With this he became the third fastest player to five ODI hundreds, overtaking Babar Azam (25 innings), and sitting behind the joint-first position holders, Quinton de Kock (19) and Imam-Ul-Haq (19).
His century was also the first time that a wicketkeeper scored a 150 in men’s ODI against Pakistan. The previous best by a wicket-keeper was MS Dhoni’s 148 at Vishakhapatnam.
After being bundled out for merely 59 in the first ODI, Afghanistan showed a great fight with the bat in their second match in the series. The strong start from Gurbaz and Zadran was followed by a slight wobble towards the death, but Mohammed Nabi’s run-a-ball 29 helped them touch 300 at the end of their innings.
In reply, Pakistan were cruising along at one point with the partnership between Imam-ul-Haq (91) and Babar Azam (53) who stitched a 118-run partnership for the second wicket.
However, the wicket of the skipper triggered a collapse that saw Pakistan lose five wickets for 41 runs. Shadab Khan and Iftikhar Ahmed steadied the ship but as wickets kept tumbling, Afghanistan inched closer to victory.
Needing 27 off 12, Shadab smashed a six and a four off the last two balls of the penultimate over. Off the very first ball of the last over, Shadab was run out at the non-striker’s end while backing up by Fazalhaq Farooqi.
With just one wicket in hand, Naseem Shah, as he did against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup last year, came to Pakistan’s rescue to win it for his team with a ball to spare.
Pakistan go into the final ODI in Colombo on 26 August with an unassailable 2-0 lead.
Afghanistan 300/5 in 50 overs (Rahmanullah Gurbaz 151, Ibrahim Zadran 80; Shaheen Shah Afridi 2-58) lost to Pakistan 302/9 in 49.5 overs (Imam-ul-Haq 91, Babar Azam 53, Shadab Khan 48; Fazalhaq Farooqi 3-69, Mohammad Nabi 2-46) by 1 wicket.