Hafeez ensures Pakistan avoid Afghanistan embarrassment

Afghanistan

The cool, calm and collection of captain Mohammad Hafeez ensured Pakistan avoided defeat in Sunday's one-off Twenty20 International against Afghanistan at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

The cool, calm and collection of captain Mohammad Hafeez ensured Pakistan avoided defeat in Sunday's one-off Twenty20 International against Afghanistan at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

Minnows Afghanistan, who recently qualified for next year's World Twenty20 in Bangladesh – threatened to upset the proverbial applecart – but ultimately slipped to a tight six-wicket defeat.

Pakistan required six runs off the final over of a nail-biting affair, and triumphed with a delivery to spare, as fast bowler Dawlat Zadran erred with a no-ball and a wide amid three singles and a bye.

Afghanistan's total was built on the back of the hard-hitting Najibullah Zadran's quickfire 38, which featured a trio of fours and twin sixes and spanned a mere 30 deliveries. All-rounder Mirwais Ashraf, meanwhile, contributed a complementary 28.

Spinner Hafeez was entirely economical with the ball, leaving left-arm seamer Junaid Khan's deployment as a fourth-change bowler to strike late. Khan completed figures of three for 24 during a telling spell.

Pakistan's reply enjoyed a strong start, as opener Ahmed Shehzad and debutant Sharjeel Khan compiled a 49-run alliance inside eight overs. The pair fell in reasonably quick succession, though, and wicketkeeper-batsman Umar Akmal was unable to convert a promising 28 into greater proportions.

Man of the Match Hafeez, however, was quietly confident throughout – and answered plenty of critics in the wake of his dismissal from the Test team and trying stretch of form in limited-overs cricket.

The veteran right-hander moved to 42 not out off 37 deliveries, shepherding the inexperienced Sohaib Maqsood and belligerent Shahid Afridi through important – albeit small – partnerships.

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