In the culminating clash of the series, Pakistan squared off against Afghanistan on Saturday, with an unassailable 2-0 lead already secured in the three-match ODI series. The team’s victory in the second ODI, where they clinched a narrow 1-wicket win over Afghanistan in Hambantota, remained fresh in memory, particularly due to the role played by Naseem Shah, who emerged as a pivotal figure by steering his side to victory amidst controversy.
Babar Azam, Pakistan’s captain, displayed unwavering form and resilience throughout the series. Following his half-century performance in the second ODI, Babar continued his impressive run in the final match. Building a strong foundation, he had reached a commendable score of 60 runs off 85 deliveries; however, his innings came to an end due to the brilliance of Afghanistan’s leg-spinner, Rashid Khan.
A perfectly executed delivery from Khan outfoxed the Pakistan skipper, leading to an outside edge that was snatched up by wicketkeeper Rahmanullah Gurbaz in the 37th over. Babar’s departure from the crease was accompanied by visible frustration, a clear manifestation of his dissatisfaction with the manner of his dismissal.
Pakistan posted a formidable total of 268/8 after completing fifty overs, with Babar Azam contributing 60 runs to secure the second-highest score of the innings. The top scorer for Pakistan was Mohammad Rizwan, who notched up an impressive 67 runs. Afghanistan’s bowling effort was spearheaded by Gulbadin Naib and Fareed Ahmad, both claiming two wickets each, while Fazalhaq Farooqi, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, and Rashid Khan each managed to secure a single wicket.
Series crucial for Asia Cup 2023
The significance of the series extended to both teams in the context of the Asia Cup 2023. Pakistan found themselves grouped with their arch-rivals India and Nepal in Group A, while Afghanistan faced the challenge of the “Group of Death” alongside Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. This scenario intensified the stakes for both sides as they aimed to fine-tune their preparations and strategies ahead of the upcoming tournament, recognizing the importance of these matches in shaping their Asia Cup campaign.