The 2nd ODI between Pakistan and Afghanistan was not for the faint-hearted. Afghanistan were on the cusp of registering a memorable win – their first against Pakistan in an ODI – before Naseem Shah and Shadab Khan stole victory from the jaws of defeat. After posting 300/5 batting first riding on Rahmanullah Gurbaz’s glorious century, Afghanistan had Pakistan in a bit of a trouble at 211/6. The equation boiled down to 27 needed off the last two overs when Shadab Khan and Naseem Shah switched gears. Shadab struck a six and a four off the last two balls of the 49th overs, leaving Pakistan with 11 to get off the 50th.
Drama then unfolded before the first ball of the final over could be bowled. As Fazalhaq Farooqi ran in to bowl, he smartly ran Shadab out at the non-striker’s end. With Shadab backing too far, Farooqi took off the bails and after a referral with the third umpire, the batter was indeed given out sparking a raging controversy. As Shadab shook his head in disbelief while walking back with the entire Pakistan dugout fuming, Naseem Shah denied Afghanistan once again, smashing a four off the first ball and then hitting another four off the penultimate ball to help Pakistan secure a narrow one-wicket win. Naseem’s ending was similar to Pakistan’s win over Afghanistan at last year’s Asia Cup where he struck consecutive sixes off the last over to seal the win.
However, despite Pakistan weathering another close call, they could not overlook the contentious run-out involving Farooqi. A visibly furious Babar Azam led from the front in expressing Pakistan’s displeasure as his cold post-match visuals went viral. Babar delivered aggressive handshakes to the Afghanistan team, avoiding eye contact with any of the players, and later brought up the incident with captain Mohammad Nabi. When the moment came for Babar to exchange pleasantries with his Afghan counterpart, he gestured in the direction of Farooqi, seemingly making a reference to the incident while ensuring his message was communicated to Nabi. Nevertheless, the Afghanistan captain chose not to engage and carried on with the proceedings.
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Having said that, Babar’s temper cooled off by the time it was his time to speak during the post-match presentation ceremony after Pakistan had won a humdinger with one ball to spare. “All credit to the boys. We just tried to build the partnership when me and Imam were playing, just wanted to play long and see where we stand after 40 overs. We knew we could chase 80 or 90 in the last 10 overs. Naseem also comes up in crunch situations,” he said as Pakistan took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.