Easy win for Pakistan in the end

Pakistan won their Asia Cup match against Afghanistan in Fatullah by 72 runs on Thursday thanks largely to an unbeaten ton by Umar Akmal.

<b>Pakistan won their Asia Cup match against Afghanistan in Fatullah by 72 runs on Thursday thanks largely to an unbeaten ton by Umar Akmal.</b>

Pakistan were reeling with their score on 117/6 after being sent in to bat, but Akmal had valuable support from the lower order as they reached 248 for eight in their 50 overs.

In response, Afghanistan never looked like chasing the total and were dismissed for 176 in the 48th over.

Afghanistan started their innings in blistering from, with openers Mohammad Shahzad (nine) and Noor Ali Zadran (44) progressing the score to 32 in the fifth over before the former was caught behind by Akmal off the bowling of Gul.

Zadran and Asghar Stanikzai (40) continued to score runs freely against Gul and Anwar Ali, but when the spinners Shahid Afrida and Saeed Ajmal came on in the middle overs, the run rate slowed dramatically.

Zadran was the first to fall of the two, lbw by Saeed Ajmal with the score on 65/2, but Stanikzai and Nawroz Mangal (35) continued to frustrate the Pakistan bowlers, even if the asking rate continued to rise.

When Stanikzai fell to Afridi with the score on 139, wickets starting tumbling with alarming regularity as Mohammad Nabi (15), Najibullah Zadran (one), Mirwais Ashraf (four), Dawlat Zadran (naught), Shapoor Zadran (one) and Samiullah Shenwari (14) all fell in quick succession as Aghanistan stumbled to 176 all out.

Mohammad Hafeez was the most effective bowler on the day with figures for 3/29, while Ajmal took two and Afridi one wicket.

Earlier, Pakistan openers Sharjeel Khan (25) and Ahmed Shehzad (50) made a decent if slightly slow start to the innings before the former was dismissed Hamza Hotak, making it 55/1 in the 13th over.

His dismissal brought Hafeez (10) to the wicket, but on the slow track at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium, none of the batsmen seemed to be able to time the ball on a consistent basis and wickets fell with regularity.

After Hafeez was caught by Nabi off the bowling by Mirwais Ashraf with the score on 78/2, Shehzad and Misbah were dismissed shortly after to make it 89/4.
Misbah's dismissal was a bitter blow to Pakistan's hopes as the captain was run out in a mix up with Sohaib Maqsood without facing a ball.

Maqsood (13) didn't last much longer and was caught by Stanikzai off Shenwari's bowling with the score on 108/5, bringing Afridi to the wicket.
When Ali was dismissed, Akmal found another ally in Umar Gul (15), with whom he added 40 for the eighth wicket.

It could have been even worse for Pakistan had their opponents on the day snaffled the opportunity that Akmal presented earlier in his innings. With the score on 146/6, the wicket-keeper batsman presented a routine catch to the point fielder Shenwari with his score on 27.

For the Asian Cup debutants, Ashraf was arguably the pick of the bowlers, ending with figures of 2/29 in his eight overs.

<b>The teams: </b>
<b>Afghanistan:</b> 1 Mohammad Shahzad, 2 Noor Ali Zadran, 3 Ashghar Stanikzai, 4 Nawroz Mangal, 5 Mohammad Nabi, 6 Samiullah Shenwari, 7 Najibullah Zadran, 8 Mirwais Ashraf, 9 Hamza Hotak, 10 Dawlat Zadran, 11 Shapoor Zadran.
<b>Pakistan:</b> 1 Sharjeel Khan, 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Sohaib Maqsood, 5 Misbah, 6 Umar Akmal, 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Anwar Ali, 9 Umar Gul, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Junaid Khan.