Afridi seals triumph in tight finish

India

All-rounder Shahid Afridi struck twin sixes off the final two deliveries of Sunday's crucial Asia Cup fixture at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, Dhaka, as Pakistan trumped India by one wicket.

All-rounder Shahid Afridi struck twin sixes off the final two deliveries of Sunday's crucial Asia Cup fixture at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, Dhaka, as Pakistan trumped India by one wicket.

The result pushed Pakistan to the top of the five-team table and all but booted India, who were defeated by Sri Lanka earlier this week, out of the sub-continental ODI showpiece.

Captain Misbah-ul-Haq's decision to bowl first after winning the toss was crucial. Damp conditions, late in the match, caused by dew, was always going to make the ball difficult to grip.

The Indian order rode on the success of opener Rohit Sharma, middle-order batsman Ambati Rayudu and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who each gathered mature half-centuries.

But captain Virat Kohli failed, as did the hard-hitting Shikhar Dhawan, as spin trio Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez characteristically strangled the run-rate.

The threesome conceded just 100 runs from a combined 25 overs, complementing the reasonably inroads secured by seamers Umar Gul and Mohammad Talha superbly. Talha was particularly sound on debut, securing figures of two for 22 – and justifying selection ahead of fellow fast bowler Anwar Ali.

Pakistan's pursuit enjoyed a solid start, with a stand of 71 in 11 overs between openers Ahmed Shehzad and Sharjeel Khan providing the necessary impetus. Man of the Match Hafeez later capitalised, too, moving to a cool, calm and collected 75 from 117 deliveries.

His departure to spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and the run-out of the inexperienced Sohaib Maqsood and capitulation of the tail-enders, though, left Afridi with the tough task of farming the strike away from number 11 Junaid Khan and striking the winning runs.

The bombastic former captain dutifully obliged, muscling six over extra cover and six more over long-on off the bowling of Ashwin to cap triumph with two deliveries to spare.

The Indians were left to lament a reasonably substandard effort in the field, typified by wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik's missed stumping. They will meet Afghanistan on Wednesday, while Pakistan will clash with Bangladesh on Tuesday.

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