Afghanistan skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi lauded the team’s openers – Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran – after they bested Pakistan by eight wickets at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai on Monday. This is Afghanistan’s one of the biggest wins, coming a few days after they stunned World Champions England in Delhi.
While chasing 283, Afghanistan was given a perfect start by their openers as they added 130 runs in 21 overs. Rahmanullah Gurbaz continued his good form and he was the aggressor in the partnership, getting to his fifty off just 38 balls. However, more importantly, Zadran also got back into form at the right time as he completed his maiden World Cup fifty in 54 balls.
The Afghanistan openers showed the intent which was needed and they also stole some quick singles from Pakistan’s fielders, who were not on their toes. Gurbaz went on to score an attacking knock of 65 runs off just 53 balls whereas Zadran played a match-winning knock of 87 runs, second highest for Afghanistan in their World Cup history.
Shahidi, who scored an unbeaten knock of 48 and added 96 runs with Rahmat Shah (77), also hailed Afghanistan’s spinners. Noor Ahmed making his World Cup debut at 18 returned with impressive figures of 3-49 in his quota of 10 overs. Nabi bowled a fine spell of 1-31 whereas Rashid Khan was also economical, conceding 41 runs in his 10 overs.
Shahidi said in the post-match presentation, “This win tastes nice. The way we chased was very professional. Looking forward for the other games. The way we chased today, we’ll do it again. The quality cricket that we have been playing from the last couple of years, the belief was there when we were playing the Asia Cup also. At the start of the tournament, I said that we want to make this tournament historic for our country people.”
Shahidi said they will look to play positive cricket in their upcoming matches.
He added, “First was England, today Pakistan, looking forward for the other games. We’ll try our best to play positive cricket and do a lot for our country in this World Cup. The spin bowling department did very well. We gave a chance to Noor and trusted in him, he showed his talent. The way Gurbaz and Ibrahim started the innings, they gave that momentum and confidence. The game was in our hand from the beginning till the end. The last partnership that me and Rahmat played was also good.”
Afghanistan will next take on Sri Lanka at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune on Monday.