ASIA CUP: Akmal ton, bowlers seal Pakistan’s crushing victory

NEW DELHI: A stupendous unbeaten century by Umar Akmal and a brilliant show by the bowlers helped Pakistan secure a comprehensive 72-run win against Afghanistan with a bonus point in their Asia Cup clash at Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium, Fatullah on Thursday. The crushing win meant Pakistan pocketed a bonus point as well.

After Akmal’s 102* knock steered the defending champions to 248/8, Afghanistan were bundled out for 176.

After Umar Akmal’s brilliant century powered Pakistan to 248/8, Afghanistan got off to a good start.

Pacer Umar Gul gave Pakistan first breakthrough by sending back Mohammad Shahzad. Gul struck on the final ball of the fifth over to get Shahzad (9) caught behind at the score of 32.

Noor Ali Zardan (44) then took the score past fifty but before he could get his half-ton, he was trapped infront of the wickets by Saeed Ajmal while trying to play around his pads in the 19th over.

Asghar Stanikzai and Nawroz Mangal then steadied Afghanistan innings. However, they found scoring tough as they managed to take the score past 100 mark in the 30th over.

After a solid 74-run stand for the third wicket between them, Afghanistan lost both Stanikzai and Mangal in quick succession, giving Pakistan total control.

While Shahid Afridi got rid of Stanikzai after his 40-run knock, that came of 91 balls, in the 37th over, Mangal (35) was run out in the next over, triggering Afghanistan’s collapse.

Earlier, young wicketkeeper-batsman Umar Akmal hit a scintillating century and played the role of a saviour to perfection as he lifted Pakistan to a competitive 248 for eight.

Akmal smashed 102 off 89 balls after Afghanistan won the toss and reduced Pakistan to 117 for six inside 30 overs on a sluggish pitch at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium.

Akmal reached his three-figure mark with a huge six in the penultimate ball of the innings.

The 23-year-old, who scored 74 off 72 against Sri Lanka in the last match, clobbered three sixes and seven boundaries while taking Pakistan to recovery from a precarious position.

Opener Ahmed Shehzad (50) contributed with a half-century and along with Sharjeel Khan got Pakistan off to a fine start, compiling 55 runs for the opening wicket before the former was scalped for 25 off 37 balls, including two fours and a six.

Next batsman Mohammad Hafeez (10) joined hands with Shehzad but the duo could only add 23 runs before Mirwais Ashraf sent Hafeez back to the pavilion.

Shehzad’s departure triggered a mini collapse and from 89 for two, Pakistan slumped to 117 for six. They lost four wickets for mere 28 runs on the board.

The Asia Cup-debutants removed Sohaib Maqsood (13), skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (0) and allrounder Shahid Afridi (6) to put Pakistan in a spot of bother.

While leg-spinner Samiullah Shenwari cleaned up Shehzad, who hit seven fours in his half-century.

Misbah was unlucky to be run-out without facing a ball, and Afridi missed a slog only to find his off-stump uprooted by pacer Dawlat Zadran, sending the Afghanistan camp in jubilation.

But Akmal continued with his good form as he took Pakistan to a respectable total.

For the seventh wicket, Akmal added 60 runs with Anwar Ali (21 off 36 balls) to calm down nerves in the Pakistan dressing room and followed it with a 50-run stand with Umar Gul (15).

BRIEF SCORE:
Pakistan 248 for 8 (Akmal 102*, Shehzad 50, Mirwaiz 2-29, Shenwari 2-34) beat Afghanistan 176 all out in 47.2 overs (Hafeez 3/29, Ajmal 2/25) by 72 runs.

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