Asif Ali once again bailed out Pakistan for the second night in a row as the team virtually stepped into the semifinals of the T20 World Cup 2021. Asif went into a six-hitting spree on Friday night in Dubai as Pakistan sealed a five-wicket win against Afghanistan to register their third win on the trot. Looking back at the knock, captain Babar Azam admitted that he was confident Asif would deliver it for Pakistan when needed.
With 38 required from the final four deliveries, the experienced Shoaib Malik eased the pressure with a six sent down to the long-on fence against Rashid Khan. But the leggie eventually got his job done dismissing a panic-stricken Babar for 51 (47). Naveen-ul-Haq then backed it up with the dismissal of Malik while conceding only two singles. But with Karim Janat up next and the short leg-side boundary insight, Asif looked determined to exploit Afghanistan’s weakest bowler.
With 24 required off the last 12 balls, Asif slammed four sixes in the over to take Pakistan home.
“He (Asif Ali) is known for this. He has played many innings at the PSL (Pakistan Super League). So I was very confident he’d get us out of any trouble we find ourselves in,” Azam said after his team scored a hat-trick of wins to stay on top in group 2 points table.
“I was confident pre-tournament itself that he would deliver when needed.”
Earlier in the evening, a 71-run unbeaten stand between Gulbadin Naib (35 not out) and skipper Mohammad Nabi (35 not out) helped Afghanistan bounce back from 64-5 in 9.1 overs to post a competitive total of 147 for 6.
“We started well with the bowl, got a lot of wickets like we planned. Maybe gave away 10-15 runs too many at the end,” Azam said.
In reply, Pakistan lost Mohammad Rizwan (8) early but Babar and Fakhar Zaman (30) helped revive the innings with their well-composed 63-run stand.
“With the bat, we couldn’t capitalise the powerplay as we wanted to. At the end, with Malik and Asif Ali, we knew they could do the job,” said Azam.