Bristol: The positives in defeat Pakistan appeared so intent of drawing following the series defeat against England have all but fizzled out in an embarrassing performance in Bristol on Friday, with Afghanistan wrapping up a comfortable three-wicket win against their neighbours. Bowled out for a modest 262 in the first warm-up game, they came up against a sizzling Hazratullah Zazai, who dismantled Pakistan in the first Powerplay. From that point on, the asking rate was always in control, and in Hashmatullah Shahidi, Afghanistan had a batsman with the temperament to see his side through, finishing unbeaten on 74, completely unperturbed by a strike rate of 72.
It really is hard to overstate how much mental damage this would do to Pakistan. This may not be an official ODI, but is in many ways more important than the 10 they’ve lost on the trot, reports ESPNcricinfo. Against England, whatever happened, they could come away believing the hosts were of course on another level – which they are. Against Australia in the UAE, they were resting half their side. Against Afghanistan, a week before their World Cup starts, no explanation is likely to wash.
Pakistan looked out of sorts almost from the first delivery. The partnership between Fakhar and Imam-ul-Haq at the top only lasted because of Afghanistan’s generosity in the field, the pair were reprieved at least four times – three dropped catches and a stumping. When Hamid Hassan finally struck, it heralded a regular supply of wickets to the bowling side, with only Babar Azam putting up any sort of resistance that Mickey Arthur and his men will look back at fondly.
Pakistan 262/10 in 47.5 overs (Babar Azam 112; Mohammed Nabi 3/46) Afghanistan 263/7 in 49.4 overs (Hashmatullah Shahidi 74; Wahab Riaz 3/46).