Pakistan tail-ender Naseem Shah credited self-belief and practice sessions in the nets for his final over heroics against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup.
Naseem struck two consecutive sixes in the last over of the game to help his side beat Afghanistan and qualify for the final.
The 22-year-old who has already impressed with his fast bowling in the tournament, changed roles on Wednesday as his two stunning sixes not only sealed Pakistan’s one wicket win in a tense Super 4 match but also threw arch-rivals India out of the tournament.
“When I went in to bat I had the belief to hit the sixes. I practice (hitting sixes) and I knew they would bowl yorkers as they had the field up. I just tried and I executed,” Naseem said after the match.
“We need to have the belief, we can hit, we keep practicing in the nets and I also changed my bat, it worked.
“When you lose the ninth wicket, no one expects you to win, but I had belief that I can. I practice hitting a lot. This will be a memorable game for me. Everyone’s forgotten I am a bowler.” Pakistan needed 20 off 10 balls with two wickets in hand when Naseem came in. The no. 10 batter had only faced one ball in T20Is before that. Panic set in when Asif Ali was dismissed on the fifth ball of the penultimate over.
Pakistan needed 11 from the final over but Naseem decided to take it upon himself and finish off the match.
“Asif was batting when I came in and my job was to give him strike but when he got out, I thought it was all on me.” Pakistan captain Babar Azam said he was reminded of batting great Javed Miandad hitting that famous last ball six off Chetan Sharma to beat India in Sharjah in 1986. Azam wasn’t even born when Miandad’s heroics helped Pakistan clinch the Austral-Asia Cup.
“I was in the dressing room (during last over). But at the back of the mind, I thought it is cricket, and I have seen Naseem bat like this, so I had a little bit of belief.
“This reminded me of Javed Miandad’s six in Sharjah,” he said.
“To be honest, it was quite a tense environment in the dressing room. We couldn’t build partnerships like last few games, but the way Naseem finished it, you could see the mahaul (vibe) after that.” Pakistan will play Sri Lanka in the summit clash on Sunday.