Pak vs Afg: Mankad and heartbreaks as Naseem’s late heroics shatter Afghan dream

Naseem Shah celebrates after Pakistan won by 1 wicket during the second one-day international (ODI) cricket match between Pakistan and Afghanistan at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Hambantota on August 24, 2023. —AFP

The last over of the second ODI of the three-match series between Pakistan and Afghanistan turned out to be nerve-racking when Naseem Shah pulled off an incredible victory against the hosts at Hambantota on Thursday.

Naseem Shah, who came out to bat at number 10, was at the crease in the 50th over while Shadab Khan was at the other end when Fazalhaq Farooqi came on to bowl.

What happened in those last five deliveries kept everyone on their toes.

The 20-year-old miscued a boundary off Afghanistan’s pacer on the fifth delivery and ran jubilantly towards the dressing room as Pakistan scored 11 off the final over to finish with 302-9 in 49.5 overs.

The victory gave Pakistan an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series with the last game in Colombo on Saturday.

Pakistan’s late surge overshadowed Afghanistan opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz’s career-best run-a-ball 151 that lifted his team to 300-5 in their 50 overs.

The final two overs of Pakistan’s chase were full of drama.

Shadab Khan hit Abdul Rahman for a four and a six off the last two balls of the 49th over.

Farooqi ran out Shadab at the non-striker’s end at the start of the last over with a Mankad dismissal.

In the final over, Naseem hit the first ball he faced for four and did the same off the fifth delivery to win the game.

Naseem had hit the same bowler for two last over sixes to give Pakistan victory by one wicket in the Asia Cup Twenty20 game in Sharjah last year.

Shadab, whose 35-ball 48 contained three fours and a six, revived Pakistan’s chase in the final overs after his team fell to 258-7.

Opener Imam-ul-Haq’s 105-ball 91 with four fours set the platform.

After the match, skipper Babar Azam praised his players.

“All credit to the boys,” said the star batter whose team will jump to number one in ODI rankings if they win the final match.

“We knew we could chase 80 or 90 in the last 10 overs and praise for Naseem who comes up in crunch situations.”

Afghanistan skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi admitted the defeat was painful.

“It is hurting because we had enough runs but at the last moment they took the game away from us,” said Shahidi, blaming the penultimate over for the swing of fate.

“The…49th over there were some easy balls to the batsman and they smashed it.”

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