ICMD, Nov 4, 2018 Pakistan defeated New Zealand by 47 runs in the third and final Twenty20 international in Dubai on Sunday to claim another clean-sweep in the game's shortest format. Pakistan were lifted to 166-3 by Babar Azam who made a 58-ball 79 with seven boundaries and two sixes while Mohammad Hafeez hit a 34-ball 53 with four boundaries and two sixes. When on 48, Azam became the quickest to score 1,000 Twenty20 runs in just 26 innings beating India's Virat Kohli's record by an innings. Leg-spinner Shadab Khan took 3-30 as New Zealand were bundled out for 119 in 16.5 overs. Pakistan won the first match in Abu Dhabi by two runs and the second by six wickets in Dubai. The men-in-green had rested pacers Shaheen Afridi and Hasan Ali, and handed a debut to Waqas Maqsood — that too on his 31st birthday. Squad: Pakistan: Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Asif Ali, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, Sarfraz Ahmed, Faheem Ashraf, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Usman Khan, Waqas Maqsood New Zealand: Colin Munro, Glenn Phillips, Kane Williamson, Colin de Grandhomme, Mark Chapman, Ross Taylor, Tim Seifert, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Ish Sodhi, Seth Rance
Races to 11th successive series win after crushing New Zealand ICMD, Nov 2, 2018 Pakistan lived up to their billing as the world's best Twenty20 team with a six-wicket victory over New Zealand in Dubai on Friday to clinch the three-match series 2-0. Mohammad Hafeez (34 not out) and Shoaib Malik (ten) added 34 quickfire runs to help Pakistan overhaul the 154-run target in 19.4 overs at Dubai stadium, pocketing their 11th consecutive series and eighth successive T20 match. New Zealand were lifted to 153-7 by Corey Anderson and Colin Munro who made 44 each after Kane Williamson won the toss and opted to bat on a slow-paced pitch. Pakistan won the first match by two runs in a last-ball finish in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Hafeez, who hit Adam Milne for the winning boundary, and Malik came together with 50 needed off the last five overs. Hafeez hit two towering sixes off leg-spinner Ish Sodhi in the 17th over to bring the target down to 23 in the last three overs. Hafeez hit two sixes and a boundary in his 21-ball innings. Since Sarfraz Ahmed took over as captain in September 2016, Pakistan have beaten England (1-0), West Indies (3-0 and 3-1), a World XI (2-1), Sri Lanka (3-0), New Zealand (2-1), West Indies (3-0), Scotland (2-0) and Australia (3-0). They also won a tri-series against Zimbabwe and Australia this year. Babar Azam (40), Asif Ali (38) and Fakhar Zaman 924) also chipped in with useful runs. Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed described the win as a team effort “It's down to the effort of the players,” said Sarfraz. “We have a good balance, with Hasan Ali at 10. We know we can get 150-160. So if we start well and if we don't let too many dot balls in the middle, we have the experience of Hafeez and Malik as well.” New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson gave credit to Pakistan. “Credit to the way Pakistan played. They have a clear pattern of play which they've executed here in the UAE,” said Williamson. “I thought the first half was clinical from us. Got a good score on the board. It's a game of really small margins.” Earlier, New Zealand were again derailed in the middle overs. Munro, who has the best strike rate of 163 amongst current Twenty20 players, lifted spinner Imad Wasim for six off the very first ball of the match as New Zealand raced to 50 without loss in just 5.3 overs. But just like the first match their innings fell apart once Glenn Phillips (five) and Munro departed in the seventh over as Pakistan's bowlers, led by pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi, pulled back the scoring rate. Munro hit four boundaries and two sixes off 28 balls before he was stumped off spinner Hafeez as his miscued shot trickled behind the stumps to Sarfraz who claimed a stumping with the batsman out of his crease. Colin de Grandhomme (four) and Ross Taylor (three) fell in quick succession before Williamson (37) and Anderson added 42 for the fifth wicket. Anderson hoisted Hasan Ali for two boundaries and a six in the 17th over to help New Zealand add 52 in the last five overs. Shaheen finished with brilliant figures of 3-20 in his four overs. The third and final match will be played in Dubai on Sunday. -- Intl Agencies
ICMD, Nov 1, 2018 Former Pakistan captain Azhar Ali has announced his retirement from ODI cricket in order to prolong his Test career. "It is not a decision that I have taken suddenly; I had been considering this for quite some time." the 33-year-old batsman said in a press conference. "I think the time is right for me to focus on Test cricket. "This is my personal decision for the betterment of my career. Azhar wished Sarfraz — the man who succeeded him as the national team's skipper in the 50-over format — his best wishes. "All of us should support Sarfraz," he said. "He is doing a brilliant job. He is handling everything very well. The team has gelled very well under him." -- Courtesy Dawn.com
ICMD, Oct 24, 2018 A youthful Pakistan crushed Australia by 66 runs in the first Twenty20 international in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. Pakistan scored 155-8 in their 20 overs as Babar Azam struck an unbeaten 68 before Imad Wasim took 3 for 20 to bowl Australia out for 89 in 16.5 overs — their joint-third lowest total in all T20 Internationals. Paceman Faheem Ashraf and Shaheen Afridi both took two wickets apiece for Pakistan. Fast bowlers Billy Stanlake (3-21) and Andrew Tye (3-24) were the main wicket-takers for Australia. Australia left out paceman Mitchell Starc and off-spinner Nathan Lyon and included leg-spinner Adam Zampa in their XI. Pakistan were without senior batsman Shoaib Malik who joined the team late as he was with his wife, Indian tennis star Sania Mirza, for the birth of their first child. The second and third matches will be played in Dubai on Friday and Sunday, respectively. Squad: Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Asif Ali, Hussain Talat, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf Australia: Aaron Finch (captain), Alex Carey, Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa Umpires: Ahsan Raza (PAK) and Shozab Raza (PAK) Tv umpire: Asif Yaqoob (PAK) Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI) -- Courtesy AFP
ICMD, Oct 21, 2018 Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Abbas rose to number three in the Test bowling rankings on Sunday following his 17 wickets in the series against Australia in the United Arab Emirates. The 28-year-old took 10 for 95 to help Pakistan to their biggest Test win — a 373-run hammering of Australia — in the second Test in Abu Dhabi on Friday, giving them a 1-0 series win. He took seven wickets in the drawn first Test in Dubai. The new International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings see Abbas shoot to third from 14th and he is now behind only England's James Anderson and South Africa's Kagiso Rabada. Abbas has taken 59 wickets in his 10 matches and became the joint second-fastest Pakistani to take 50 wickets during the second Test — a mark he shares with legendary paceman Waqar Younis and Shabbir Ahmed. Pakistan's leg-spinner Yasir Shah was the fastest to reach 50 wickets, taking just nine Tests. -- AFP
India retained the Asia Cup with a three-wicket win off the last ball against a fighting Bangladesh who were anchored by a maiden hundred from opener Liton Das in Dubai on Friday. India made heavy weather of a modest 223-run target as Bangladesh fought for every run before the title holders achieved victory off the last ball watched by a capacity 25,000 holiday crowd at Dubai stadium. Das held the innings together during his 117-ball 121 which featured a dozen boundaries and two sixes but Bangladesh, who were put into bat, were all out in 48.3 overs despite a solid opening stand of 120 with Mehidy Hasan. With their settled opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, India were expected to run away with victory, like they did in the previous matches but Bangladesh were not ready to give up without a fight. Dhawan was dismissed for 15 and Sharma for a punishing 55-ball 48, studded with three sixes and as many boundaries. Dinesh Karthik (37) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (36) added 54 for the fourth wicket but once both were dismissed Bangladesh looked like pulling off an upset. Ravindra Jadeja (23) and Bhuvenshwar Kumar (21) brought the target within India's reach through a 45-run stand for the sixth wicket but Bangladesh removed them both with eight runs still needed. India then required six off the last over and one off the final delivery which came as a leg-bye. Kedar Jadhav finished with 23 not out. India won the Asia Cup — under a Twenty20 format — in Bangladesh in 2016. Friday's result meant Bangladesh lost in a second Asia Cup final after coming up just short by two runs in the 2012 final against Pakistan at home. Earlier Bangladesh lost all their wickets for 102 runs in a major middle-order collapse after a brisk opening stand of 120. Hasan was promoted to open the innings and he and Das attacked India's pace-cum-spin attack. But once Hasan was caught off Jadhav in the 21st over the innings collapsed with Bangladesh losing four more wickets by the time the score reached 151. Hasan hit three boundaries in his 59-ball 32 while Soumya Sarkar made a 45-ball 33 with a boundary and a six. Former captain Mushfiqur Rahim, who scored 144 and 99 earlier in the tournament, also hold out off Jadhav who finished with 2-41. Rahim made just five. Bangladesh's cause was not helped by three run-outs while left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav returned with the best figures of 3-45. Bangladesh innings After Rohit Sharma won the toss and opted to field first, Mehidy Hasan and Liton Das opened the innings for Bangladesh, whereas Bhuveshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah shared the new ball for India. While the Indian pace pair's opening spells had almost always troubled opposing pairs in the tournament, Hasan and Das had few such problems. Das, in particular, seemed in fine nick, smacking Kumar for back-to-back boundaries in the 4th over, which forced Indian captain Rohit Sharma to introduced spin earlier than he'd have liked. By the end of 5 overs, Bangladesh were 33-0 and looking quite comfortable. Das went after Yuzvendra Chahal in the 8th over, launching him for two maximums and accelerate the scoring.The usually reliable Bumrah was also struggling against the Bangla basher; he was hit for a four in the 9th. With Das on a roll, Hasan did the right thing by playing the facilitator rather than attempting to replicate what his partner was doing so well on the other hand. At the end of the 10th over, Bangladesh were 65-0, with Das having raced to 47 off just 31 balls. Following a brief lull, Das struck Jadeja for a 4 to open the 12 over — bowled by Ravindra Jadeja — before being dropped by Chahal two balls later. Hasan drove Kuldeep Yadav for a four in the 15th, at the end of which the scoreboard read 86-0. Das edged one to the third-man boundary to bring up Bangladesh's 100 in the 18th over, following which the teams took a drinks break. Das played two fantastic sweep shots in the 20th over bowled by Jadeja and entered his 80s but the next over saw his opening partner Hasan depart as Indian finally found the elusive breakthrough. Imrul Kayes walked in to join Das but his stay at the crease didn't last long as Chahal trapped him in front of the wickets in the 24th over. Kayes took the review but the umpire's call was upheld. At the halfway mark, Bangladesh were 133-2, reeling from the twin setbacks but still confident of posting a sizable total. However, their optimism flailed some more in the 27th and 28th minute when the in-form Musfiqur Rahim and Mohammad Mithun both departed to leave their side reeling. Das brought up his maiden ODI century in the 29th over but the job was far from done; his side needed him to carry the bat. The burden to carry on increased on Das some more in the 33rd over when Bangladesh lost their fifth wicket, this time Mahmudullah the one to depart. Das and Soumya Sarkar plugged the leak and batted responsibly for the next seven overs, taking the score to 178-5 at the end of 40 overs. The centurion's brilliant 121-run innings (off 117 balls) finally came to an end in the 41st over when he was stumped out by Yadav. The decision was referred to the third umpire, who ruled in the bowler's favour despite there being considerable visual evidence to give the benefit of the doubt to Das. Yadav was hit for a six in the 43rd over by Moshrafe Mortaza, who then tried to repeat the trick but instead fell for the bowler's repeat trick: a stumping dismissal. The final three batters dragged Bangladesh to 222 before being all-out.
LAHORE: ICMD, Sep 27, 2018 The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Thursday has announced the 17-member squad for the test series against Australia. Sarfraz Ahmed will lead the team. Other members of the squad include Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Wahab Riaz, Usman Salahuddin, Yasir Shah, Shadab Khan, Bilal Asif, Muhammad Abbas, Hassan Alk, Faheem Ashraf, Mir Hamza, and Muhammad Rizwan. Fast bowler Wahab Riaz made a comeback while Muhammad Amir has been dropped from the 17-member squad against Australia. Pakistan will play two Tests and three T20 matches against Australia in UAE. The first Test will start from October 7.
ABU DHABI: ICR/MD, Sep 26, 2018 Bangladesh won the toss and decided to bat first were all out for 239 runs in 48.5 overs against Pakistan. Although 239 is not a big chase in today's' fast cricketing game, Pakistan’s lack of confidence which its coach indicated a day before was enough a reason to cause a defeat in the last match of Super 4 phase of Asia Cup 2018 at Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi today. Wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Raheem scored unbeaten 99 while Mohammad Mithun made 60 runs as both added 144 run match-saving partnership. Junaid Khan, playing the first match of the tournament thrashed Pakistan and took 4 crucial wickets. Bangladesh which lost three early wickets with opener Soumya Sarkar who went back to the pavilion without opening his account in the third over after being caught by Fakhar Zaman on a delivery by Junaid Khan, Mominul Haque bowled by Afridi’s Yorker in the fourth over and Liton Das sent home by Junaid Khan were just 27 after 10 overs. In the next five overs, Rahim and Mithun started recovering and took the game the game in 25th over with no further loss and scored 107. They both went ahead by 30th with 138 runs hoping for a total in excess of 270. In 34th over, Hasan finally broke Rahim, Mithun's 144-run partnership At 99, Rahim was caught behind and then Bangladesh started crumbling against Junaid, Afridi, and Hasan and were 221 for 6 in 45th over. Junaid picked up his third wicket of the day in the 46th over, dismissing Mehidy Hasan Miraz as captain Mashrafe Mortaza walked in. The comeback kid struck again in the 48th over, this time unsettling the stumps of Mahmudullah. In the 49th over, Mortaza launched Hasan for a six over midwicket. That proved to be the innings' first and only maximum as Bangladesh lost both their remaining wickets in the same over, finishing with 239 all out. In its chase, Pakistan lost opener Fakhar Zaman and star batsman Babar Azam in the first two overs. With his team in more than a spot of bother, skipper Sarfraz promoted him up the order and played a few decent strokes, raising the hopes that a captain's knock might be in store for the fans. However, he unnecessarily chased a wide Mustafizur Rahman delivery and nicked it to the keeper. At this point, disaster mode was well and truly on. Not for the first time in the tournament, Shoaib Malik walked in knowing that if the team has to win, he'd have to anchor the innings. After 5 overs, Pakistan were 21-3 and in desperate need for Imam and Malik to provide a solid stand for a chance to keep their side in the tournament. A couple quiet overs later, Malik came alive in the 8th, dispatching Mustafizur Rehman for two fours to relieve some pressure before runs dried up again. At the end of 10 overs, Pakistan were 37-3. Imam took some risk in the 13th over, coming down the track and hitting it over mid-off for a much-needed boundary. However, that was an anomaly rather than the pair's SOP at the time, as both were content with picking up singles. When the teams were given a drinks break at the end of 15 overs, Pakistan were 56-3 and in need of 184 runs with 7 wickets in hand. The required run-rate was also a very manageable 5.25. n the final ball of the 17th over, Imam glanced one to the fine-leg boundary to bring up his 50-run partnership with Malik. Bangladesh captain Mortaza held on to a blinder of a catch in the 21st over to send danger man Malik back in the dugout. Malik was replaced by Shadab, who seemed to have little clue how to operate, consuming 24 balls for just 4 runs before departing on the first ball of the 26th over. Asif Ali walked in to replace Shadab but refrained from playing his natural attacking game earlier on. At the end of the 30th over, Pakistan were 108-5 and needed more than a run a ball to win. In the 31st over, Imam completed his third half-century of the tournament; it took him 72 balls. The youngster's job, however, was far from done as the situation now required him to expedite his learning and anchor the Pakistan innings till the end. Mustafizur was brought back in the 34th over and it seemed to have done the trick when he produced an edge off Asif's bat. But Das, the wicketkeeper, inexplicable attempted to grab it with one hand and spilled it. Imam hit a six to start off the 35th over, at the end of which the scoreboard read 140-5. The need for Pakistan at this point was off 100 runs off 90 balls — which when read this way, seemed pretty achievable. The duo brought up their 50-run partnership in the 36th over as Bangladesh started to feel a little uncomfortable with their resilience. Just when it seemed Pakistan were taking control of the match, Asif (31 off 47 balls) was stumped by Miraz in what was a wicket-maiden 40th over. With just 60 balls left, Pakistan required 75 runs and had four wickets in hand. Imam, who was lecturing Asif minutes ago for his casual dismissal, himself made a rash decision of coming down the track and was stumped out. That concluded his 105-ball 83-run innings and put Bangladesh back on top. Imam's departure sucked the life out of Pakistan's run chase, and even though their tale survived a full 50 overs, the game as a contest had long been over. In the end, the Greenshirts finished with 202-9 — 37 runs short of their target. – ICR/Dawn/MD
ICMD, Sep 24, 2018 Pakistan's batting failed to step up for a second successive game against India. On Sunday, they were only a shade better than in their previous meeting, in which they had made 162. A target of 238 hardly challenged Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, who flattened Pakistan's attack with centuries in a 210-run opening stand. Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur has put the team's batting failures down to a 'confidence crisis' within the team, but insisted the hard knocks from the Asia Cup would help the players learn as they build forward. "They're suffering a confidence crisis at the moment, there's a little bit of fear of failure in the dressing room, there's a bit of a reality check for exactly where we are as a cricket team," Arthur said. "In terms of the worst performance, nine wickets, it's got to be up there but we're on a journey, we'll get better and stronger than this." Arthur cited the example of Fakhar Zaman to underline the confidence crisis theory. Fakhar has looked far from settled when India have tried to attack him by bowling at the stumps, and has failed to provide his usual freewheeling starts. At the end of the first Powerplay on Sunday, he had limped to 12 off 31 balls. "We know cricket is a confidence game," Arthur said. "Look at Fakhar Zaman, he's an incredible player, he's an X-factor player and we expect him to take the game on at the top of the order, but he's doubting his game a little at the moment. We've got to just ride the wave with him. If we do that, when he comes out, he'll be a better player for this. We've banked the work, the work is all done." Arthur's second concern was Pakistan's bowlers and their deviation from set plans. Mohammad Amir has been wicketless for five straight ODIs now, stretching back to the tour of Zimbabwe in July. He's now bowled 35.4 overs since taking his last ODI wicket, and this barren spell even led to his being left out of the game against Afghanistan on Friday. He was specifically brought back because Pakistan were playing India on a fresh surface with slightly more pace and carry compared to the other surfaces in this tournament, but his returns weren't any better: 5-0-41-0. Shadab Khan too was rendered ineffective on the same surface where India's wristspinners, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, bottled up Pakistan's middle order and finished with combined figures of 4 for 87. "There was inconsistency in lines and lengths, and it's disappointing," Arthur said. "We went into panic mode. Once they got in, we started searching for wickets. The way you get wickets is, you've got to build pressure. We didn't stay with our plans long enough. Our plans was to hit the hard lengths, hit top of off with our seamers, and then have the ability to put them under pressure in the middle. We've got to attack to take wickets, it didn't happen and we weren't patient enough. There were plans but they weren't executed for long enough." Arthur was effusive in his praise for Jasprit Bumrah's death-bowling skills. Bumrah took 2 for 15 in his four-over spell at the end of the innings, nailing his yorkers perfectly, and Pakistan only managed 38 off their last seven overs. "We had an optional session the other day," Arthur said. "We sat there for 20 minutes and I watched Jasprit Bumrah at the nets next to us, executing yorker after yorker after yorker, and he put that into practice here. In our review, we definitely will be showing our young bowlers his execution in the death overs, it was very good." The Pakistan coach also disagreed that Sarfraz Ahmed's captaincy was a reason for India walking home unchallenged. He explained that the decision to bat first, on what is increasingly looking like a chasing ground, was a collective one, taken only because the confidence crisis he referred to earlier could have hurt the batsmen while chasing, particularly against India's spinners. "I have heard from the outside how we should've bowled first here, bat first there, but honestly, we look at how best we can win," Arthur said. "We believe if we can get runs on the board and strike with the new ball, we can put India under pressure. We don't want to expose our middle order against their spinners in a run chase, it's going to just get bigger and bigger and bigger and our batsmen are going to get under pressure even more." One of the solutions to the confidence crisis, he insisted, was to repose faith in the captain and allow him time and space to develop as a leader. "He's great, his captaincy is growing," he said, when asked if pressure was weighing Sarfraz down. "I've had the privilege to work with two outstanding captains (Graeme Smith and Michael Clarke), he's the third. He's a learning captain, the only one I've seen having a balance between on the field and off the field. Yes, we sit and debrief after every game in terms of tactics, he's developing into a very, very good captain for Pakistan without a doubt." There's a silver lining for Pakistan yet. They still have a chance to make the final against India by beating Bangladesh on Wednesday. Arthur prescribed some fine-tuning of skills and mental make-up to help them bounce back. "It's a confidence thing. Certainly in terms of the amount of work these guys have put in, it's second to none," he said. "These guys work every day on their catching, but the minute one goes down, it's kind of like a disease. It catches off and catches on. It takes one good catch, one good innings or a five-for to turn it around and we will get the confidence back then. We've got to trust the skills to come out in the end. We've banked the work. It's time for that to pay off." -- Courtesy espncricinfo
DUBAI: ICMD, Sep 23, 2018 The green shirts faced a humiliating nine wickets loss to India in the Asia Cup match on Sunday. India chased 238 run-target in 39.3 overs winning a second consecutive contest against its arch rival. Muhammad Aamir continued his wicket-less streak after conceding 41 runs while Skipper Rohit Sharma (111*), who remained unbeaten was dropped by Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman. India opener Shikhar Dhawan ran out after hitting a century. He departed after scoring 114 runs off 100 balls including 16 boundaries and two sixes on the strike rate of 114. India restricted Pakistan to 237 runs courtesy wicket-taking spinners and fine fast bowling by Jasprit Bumrah in death overs. Shoaib Malik was the only batsman which offered a resistance by providing a much-needed stability to the team by contributing 78 runs as back-to-back wickets halted Pakistan from building early momentum after opting to bat. Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal and Jasprit Bumrah took two wickets apiece in the match. Pakistan received its first setback as legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal trapped opener Imamul Haq (10) on lbw in the Asia Cup. His brief stay contributed team 10 runs off 20 balls. The next to depart was Fakhar Zaman, the out of form batsman was given lbw on the ball of Kuldeep Yadav as he lost his balance when he strode to hit. Replays indicate that the batsman managed a glove on the ball before it hit his body. A review might have prolonged his stay. Skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed's erroneous decision costed middle-order batsman Babar Azam's wicket. The skipper signalled for a run but after a few steps, out realises he'll never make it hence returned back to crease leaving Azam stranded. A 107 stand between Malik and skipper Sarfraz Ahmed deflected the pressure towards India before Kuldeep Yadav dismissed the skipper on 44 runs. Senior batsman Shoaib Malik (78) was the next to leave as he nudged the bowl to the keeper. The veteran's innings included 4 boundaries and two sixes on the strike rate of 86.66. Pakistan, earlier in the same tournament, lost against the subcontinent neighbours by eight wickets. The Pakistan batting order crumbled with the entire team returning to the pavilion after scoring just 162.
DUBAI: ICMD, Sep 21, 2018 Shoaib Malik hit a six and a boundary to pull off a sensational last over three-wicket win for Pakistan against a spirited Afghanistan in the Asia Cup in Abu Dhabi on Friday. Malik pulled the second ball of the final over by paceman Aftab Alam over the deep square leg boundary and then whacked the next to deep fine leg for a boundary as Pakistan pulled off a nerve-wracking win in 49.3 overs at Sheikh Zayed Stadium. Pakistan, cashing a stiff 258-run target, were home and dry to start the Super Four Stage with a much-needed win and now face arch-rivals India in Dubai on Sunday. Hashmatullah Shahidi missed out on a maiden hundred by a mere three runs but still steered Afghanistan to a challenging 257-6. Pakistan were off to a disastrous start when opener Fakhar Zaman was trapped leg-before off the sixth ball of the innings by spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman for nought. Imam-ul-Haq scored a 104-ball 80 with five boundaries and a six while Babar Azam knocked an attractive 94-ball 66 with four boundaries and a six during their innings repairing the 154-run stand for the second wicket. But both fell within the space of four runs as spinner Rashid Khan (3-46) brought Afghanistan back in the game with the asking rate getting stiffer, as Pakistan needed 42 off the final five overs. Despite losing skipper Sarfraz Ahmed (eight), Asif Ali (seven), and Mohammad Nawaz (ten), Malik kept his cool to stop Afghanistan from posting their third straight win after beating Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the first round. Earlier, Shahidi hit three consecutive boundaries in the final over off Usman Shinwari but failed to get to three figures off the last delivery after Afghanistan won the toss and batted. Shahidi finished with a brilliantly-paced 118-ball 97 not out and added 94 for the fourth wicket with his skipper Asghar Afghan, who smashed five sixes and two fours in his 56-ball 67. But it was Shahidi who held one end against Pakistan's bowling in an innings which featured seven boundaries after left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz (3-57) had put the brakes on Afghanistan's early progress. Shahidi had added 63 for the third wicket with Rahmat Shah who scored a measured 36. The total is an improvement by Afghanistan after scoring 249 and 255 in their previous two wins against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Pakistani fielders dropped four catches — three off debutant paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi who finished with 2-38. India beat Bangladesh by seven wickets in Dubai and now meet Pakistan on Sunday, also in Dubai. Afghanistan and Bangladesh meet in Abu Dhabi on the same day. Top two teams from the Super Four Stages will play the final in Dubai on September 28.