World Cup 2019: Imad, Wahab heroics keep Pakistan alive

The three-wicket win over Afghanistan took Pakistan to fourth in the points table and kept its dreams of a World Cup 2019 semifinal berth alive.

Imad Wasim celebrates with Wahab Riaz after hitting the winning runs for Pakistan.   -  Reuters Photo

Pakistan survived an Afghan scare to scrape through to a three-wicket win and keep its World Cup alive. After Shaheen Shah Afridi terrified the Afghanistan batsmen to submission on a bright Saturday morning at the Headingley, all-rounder Imad Wasim held his nerve and stitched crucial partnerships with Shadab Khan and then Wahab Riaz to save Pakistan from any embarrassment.    

Pakistan looked on course for a comfortable win as Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam forged a 72-run partnership for the second wicket. Off-spinner Mohammad Nabi, however, removed both in quick succession to bring Afghanistan back into the contest.

Scorecard | As it happened

The team was soon in dire straits at 156 for six, but Imad kept his cool to anchor the innings at the end. Playing an unbeaten knock of 49, he forged two crucial partnerships -- 50 with Shadab Khan and an unbeaten 24 with Wahab Riaz (not out 15) -- to guide the side home, with two balls to spare. Wahab's unbeaten 15 off nine balls, which included a lusty six off Rashid Khan, brought down the asking rate.

Skipper Gulbadin Naib’s decision to bowl the 46th over, after spinners had established a stranglehold on the batsmen, backfired as he conceded 18 runs to ease the pressure on Pakistan. His effort to redeem himself came a cropper as he failed to defend six runs in the final over.

 

With an eye on a semifinal berth, Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed relied on Shaheen to dish out a blistering opening spell to remove Gulbadin and Hashmatullah Shahidi in back-to-back deliveries.

Afghanistan recovered through a 64-run fourth-wicket stand between Asghar Afghan and young wicketkeeper Ikram Ali Khil and Najibullah Zadran, too, chipped in with a patient 54-ball 42.

Shaheeen, who picked four wickets against New Zealand, finished with figures of four for 47 to win the battle of youngsters against his more fancied opponent Rashid Khan, who is just 20. The spinner, who has had enormous success in various T20 Leagues, failed to pose enough challenges to the Pakistan batsmen and continued to disappoint in this World Cup, giving away 50 runs in 10 overs.

Shaheen’s team-mates, however, almost failed to do justice to his hard work, but, thankfully, Imad came to its rescue.

  Dugout videos