Afghanistan powered past neighbours Pakistan by 22 runs to take them to final where they will face Bangladesh. Today’s win has ensured Afghanistan will earn at least a sliver medal.
Put in to bat by the Pakistanis, openers Mohammad Shahzad and Karim Sadiq began cautiously before four quick wickets reduced the Afghans to 55-4. However, a brilliant counter-attacking partnership of 56 runs between Asghar Stanikzai and Shabir Noori (35 runs off 30 balls) gave Afghanistan some much-needed momentum.
Once Stanikzai and Noori departed, the lower-order batsmen failed to provide a flourish to the end of the innings; nevertheless they scrambled to 125-8 in 20 overs, a competitive total in a tournament that has seen a series of low scores.
Pakistan got off to an electric start – one stage scoring at 10 runs per over – as Sharjeel Khan and Rashid Latif, the best batsmen in this Pakistan team, added 31 for the first wicket.
In the middle of the innings, the spinners led by Karim Sadiq (2-17) stalled the innings as Pakistan collapsed to 68-5.
Pakistan were never able to recover from the loss of these quick wickets as the run-rate climbed rapidly. In the end it was a surprisingly comfortable victory margin of 22 runs.
With this being in effect a mixture of Pakistan’s second and third XI it would wrong to call it a major upset; but of course it is still a hugely satisfying win for Afghanistan.
“It’s a big win for Afghanistan,” captain Mohammad Nabi said. “Every person there is watching the match and everybody is happy about this win. I’m very satisfied because we have fantastic fitness levels and the boys have worked very hard in every position, whether it’s fielding, bowling or batting. ”
Afghanistan will now face Bangladesh, who beat Sri Lanka by five wickets in the semi-final, for a Gold medal.
You can see the full scorecard of Afghanistan’s historic win over Pakistan here, on cricinfo.
Shortthirdman, as he is known, has been closely following Afghanistan cricket since April 2009. He also has a blog, called Short Third Man, which is about all things cricket.