It proved to be a nail-biting finish for a fourth win in the ICC World Cup for Pakistan as they rose to fourth place on the table. Afghanistan would have believed that they had the win wrapped up by all-rounder Imad Wasim had other ideas as he led Pakistan to a three-wicket win at Edgbaston on Saturday (June 29).
Skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed insisted that the contribution by Imad Wasim in difficult conditions was important to seal the win.
“It was not an easy pitch to bat on, but credit goes to Imad for the way he batted and handled the pressure, hats off to him. We knew it was not an easy chase because their (Afghanistan) bowlers used the conditions very well,” Sarfaraz said after the match.
“Babar and Imam played very well, we needed a partnership in the middle.”
Pakistan have never been the best chasers and the fast bowlers stepped up in style during the Afghanistan innings with Shaheen Shah Afridi finishing with four wickets to his name.
“A full team effort. We all knew it's not an easy task in the World Cup, but we took it match by match. Shaheen Shah Afridi is improving day-by-day, he's working very hard. The other bowlers also bowled really well,” the Pakistan skipper said.
Hopes of pulling of this fantastic win almost vanished midway through the chase as Rashid Khan dismissed Haris Sohail and shortly after Sarfaraz was run out before Man-of-the-Match Wasim stepped up.
“When I went into bat, Rashid was bowling brilliantly and I couldn't pick him to be honest. So the plan was to just hang in there. We decided to play the full fifty overs,” a delighted Imad said in the post- match presentation ceremony.
This defeat means Afghanistan have lost all their eight games and Imad, while chasing the game felt happy that captain Gulbadin Naib was taking the responsibility of bowling the important overs.
“He (Naib) was the only bowler who could've been targeted to be honest. They've got world class spinners and our plan was to attack when fast bowler comes in.”
For Afghanistan, this World Cup has seen them take a battering from which they can only come out a better team and Naib believes that not only did luck desert them, they hadn’t performed to the best of their ability.
“Bad luck for us today. Hamid Hasan was injured. The wicket was slow and turning, credit to Nabi, Mujeeb, Rashid and Sami also,” Naib said
“But we missed Hamid. I said at the start of the tournament 30-40 is not enough, you need 60-70 or 100, then you can put a good total. But each batsman, including me, should go one step forward. We are learning a lot, so hopefully we'll do well in the future.”