Afghanistan created another big upset at the Cricket World Cup as they thumped struggling Pakistan by eight wickets to win two games at the same edition of the tournament for the first time.
After stunning England eight days ago, the ninth-ranked Afghans celebrated only their third-ever win at the World Cup on Monday, the other coming against Scotland in 2015 in their first appearance.
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An aggressive 130-run opening stand between Ibrahim Zadran (87) and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (65) orchestrated Afghanistan’s 286-2 in 49 overs against out-of-sort Pakistan’s pace and spin bowling.
Rahmat Shah and captain Hashmatullah Shahidi built on the solid first-wicket stand by sharing an unbeaten 96-run third-wicket stand. Shah remained unbeaten on 77 while Shahidi scored 48 not out as he raised the victory with a boundary against Shaheen Afridi at square leg.
Pakistan, which won the toss and elected to bat, made 282-7 against a spin-heavy quartet with captain Babar Azam (74) and Abdullah Shafique (58) scoring half-centuries.
It was Pakistan’s first loss in a one-day international (ODI) against Afghanistan, which bettered its previous highest successful ODI chase of 274 made against the United Arab Emirates nine years ago.
“The way we chased today was very professional,” Shahidi said in his post-match interview.
We will try our best to play positive cricket, and do a lot for our country … The game was in our hands from the beginning until the end.”
Azam rued Pakistan’s failure to take wickets in the middle overs after setting a decent total.
“In a World Cup, if you are not good even in one department, you lose. We started well while bowling, but we couldn’t take wickets,” Azam said in his post-match interview.
“All credit to Afghanistan. We are not playing good cricket, [especially] in bowling and fielding … There was no pressure on their batsmen.”
A third successive defeat pushed Pakistan into a must-win situation for a place in the semifinals with only four points from five matches.
Afghanistan also kept their slim hopes alive with four points in as many games as they moved into the number six spot, behind Pakistan on net run-rate, leaving England at the bottom of the table. The top four teams out of 10 in the round-robin stage qualify for the semifinals.