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Rauf’s Five-Wicket Haul Dismisses Afghanistan for 59 Runs

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Rauf’s Five-Wicket Haul, While Afghanistan’s spinners effectively limited Pakistan to a score of 201, their own team faltered during the chase, succumbing within 20 overs.

Pakistan Secures Dominant Victory by 142 Runs: Bowlers Shine Against Afghanistan

In a display of formidable bowling prowess, Pakistan posted a total of 201 runs (Imam 61, Iftikhar 30), with Afghanistan’s spinners Mujeeb (3-31), Nabi (2-34), and Rashid (2-42) showing their mettle. However, the match took an unexpected turn as Pakistan’s fast bowlers, led by Rauf’s remarkable performance (5-18) and Afridi’s contribution (2-9), led to Afghanistan’s collapse at just 59 runs.

The thrilling encounter in Hambantota showcased the stark contrast between pacers’ fiery deliveries and spinners’ bewildering skills, ultimately resulting in a convincing victory for Pakistan.

Dominant Bowling Duel: Afghanistan’s Spinners Stumble Pakistan, But Rauf’s Five-Wicket Haul Decimates Afghanistan

In a gripping cricket clash, Afghanistan’s spin trio – Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Rashid Khan, and Mohammad Nabi – spun a web to restrict Pakistan to 201 runs. However, Pakistan’s pace trident – Haris Rauf, Shaheen Shah Afridi, and Naseem Shah – responded with a scintillating performance, causing Afghanistan’s batting lineup to collapse for their second lowest ODI score, leading Pakistan to triumph by a formidable 142 runs.

Rauf’s extraordinary five-wicket haul for 18 runs, his personal best in ODIs, was the highlight, following an initial destabilization by Afridi and Naseem. Afridi initiated the downfall with a bouncer that dismissed Ibrahim Zadran, while Naseem’s high pace and movement secured the wicket of Hashmatullah Shahidi with a well-executed bouncer. The Afghanistan captain, Shahidi, fell prey to a brilliant catch by Shadab Khan.

With the top order rattled, Afghanistan struggled throughout. Rauf began his spell by trapping Ikram Alikhil with a nip-backer, and Gurbaz, the top scorer of their innings with 18, eventually edged to the wicketkeeper. The fiery duel between bowlers made for an enthralling contest in which Pakistan emerged victorious.

Rauf’s Five-For Stuns Middle Order as Omarzai’s Fiery Start Falters

Amidst a blazing performance by Azmatullah Omarzai, who surged to 16 off 12 balls with three fours before retiring hurt, Haris Rauf’s relentless attack dismantled the middle order, culminating in his remarkable five-wicket haul. Mujeeb’s misjudgment led to his dismissal, caught at mid-on.

In the scorching afternoon heat, Babar Azam, after winning the toss, chose to bat on a parched pitch. However, Pakistan’s innings stumbled to 7 for 2 within two overs. Fazalhaq Farooqi’s left-arm pace troubled Fakhar Zaman, resulting in his dismissal via an edge to slip. Farooqi followed it with an inswinging yorker on the second ball, and a delivery moving away left Fakhar unable to resist a poke. Mujeeb’s opening delivery, a full-length skidding one, found its way through Babar’s defense, trapping him lbw for a brief three-ball inning.

Resuming at No. 4, Mohammad Rizwan adopted an assertive approach from the outset. He struck two fours off Farooqi in the fifth over, lofting the ball through the cover gap and elegantly guiding another to the same region. Rizwan continued his momentum, claiming two more boundaries off Farooqi’s subsequent over, effectively boosting Pakistan’s run-rate.

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Mujeeb’s Key Dismissal Derails Pakistan as Rizwan Falls

However, in his fourth over, Mujeeb dealt a blow to Pakistan by dismissing Rizwan lbw. A skillfully tossed-up carrom ball spun around leg, confounding Rizwan’s attempted defensive shot towards the leg side. The impact on his back leg resulted in a palpable lbw. Video replays suggested it would have dislodged the bails. Agha Salman, fresh from an impressive series against New Zealand earlier in May, struggled before being outfoxed by a deceptive googly from Rashid, further contributing to Pakistan’s downfall, leaving them at a precarious 62 for 4.

Imam-ul-Haq’s Steady Innings Amidst Wickets Falling

Amidst the flux of wickets, Imam-ul-Haq demonstrated resilience, capitalizing on loose deliveries from Farooqi and showcasing his adeptness against spin, including Mujeeb, Rashid, and Nabi. His half-century was the result of diligent effort, marked by just two boundaries. While wickets tumbled around him, Imam maintained his agility between the wickets, contributing to his team’s total.

However, Imam’s quest for acceleration led to a top-edged shot against Nabi, who was met with an unsuccessful catch attempt by Shahidi. Later, he received another reprieve when a lofted drive was dropped by Omarzai, followed by a miscued pull falling just short of a running long-on fielder. Unfortunately for Imam, his luck ran out as an attempted mid-on shot against Nabi resulted in a misjudged shot, caught by Rashid after a tumbling catch during a backpedal.

Throughout his innings, Imam found a dependable partner in Iftikhar Ahmed, with whom he added 50 runs off 69 deliveries for the fifth wicket. Later, he formed a 40-run alliance with Shadab Khan.

Iftikhar’s Crucial Contribution Revives Pakistan, Shadab Adds Spark

Guiding Pakistan’s resurgence, Iftikhar employed a methodical approach against the spin, capitalizing on singles and doubles while using the crease adeptly. He effectively punished the loose deliveries, especially the short and wide ones, employing the cut shot for both his boundary hits. However, his innings was curtailed by Nabi’s offspin, which held up on the surface and resulted in a catch to short midwicket.

In contrast, Shadab, making his fourth ODI appearance in 2023, showed his prowess by promptly identifying Rashid’s googly and dispatching it over the bowler’s head. He further contributed 34 runs alongside Naseem for the ninth wicket before a direct hit from Mujeeb, stationed at fine leg, led to Shadab’s run-out at the bowler’s end.

While Afghanistan managed to dismiss Pakistan’s batting lineup for the first time in ODIs, their feeble batting display extended their search for a maiden victory against their rivals in this format.

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