Afghanistan players dance to glory after emphatic WC win over Pakistan; WATCH celebrations in dressing room
An energised Afghanistan squad extended their impressive run by pushing Pakistan to the edge of elimination with an emphatic eight-wicket win in a World Cup match on Monday.
In a stunning display of cricket, the spirited Afghanistan team continued its impressive run in the ODI World Cup 2023 by defeating Pakistan with eight wickets in Chennai on Monday. The challenging Chepauk track set a target of 283 for Afghanistan, which was no easy task. However, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, from the Kolkata Knight Riders, played an aggressive innings of 65 runs off 53 balls, while his partner Ibrahim Zadran (87 off 113 balls) provided stability in their opening stand of 130 runs.
Experience is usually invaluable in such high-pressure matches, but Afghanistan showcased their talent by successfully chasing down the target in 49 overs. This victory exposed the weaknesses in Pakistan's bowling unit, which failed to perform on the day. Afghanistan's batsmen executed their roles perfectly, securing their highest-ever run-chase in the 50-over format. With this win, Afghanistan secured their second victory in the tournament after defeating defending champions England in New Delhi and now sit sixth in the mid-table standings with four points.
Meanwhile, Pakistan, who have now suffered three consecutive defeats, are in danger of missing out on the knockout stage if they lose to South Africa later in the week. Their seasoned player, Rahmat Shah, played a crucial role in the chase, scoring an unbeaten 77 off 84 balls, and Hashmatullah Shahidi (48 not out, 45 balls) provided valuable support, particularly during challenging batting conditions. Their partnership of 96 runs for the third wicket showcased remarkable temperament, and the joy of hitting the winning boundary was evident to everyone, including the 21,000 enthusiastic fans at Chepauk who gave the team a standing ovation.
The players celebrated the win in the dressing room, with videos capturing them singing and dancing with joy. Here's a look at the celebrations that have now gone viral on X, including one that features Rashid Khan dancing with former Indian cricketer Irfan Pathan at the Chepauk.
The match, which took place on the same pitch used for the India versus Australia game, offered grip and turn. Pakistan posted a competitive total of 282 for 7, which was a commendable effort considering Afghanistan's strong spin bowling unit.
While spin is Afghanistan's strength, it has become Pakistan's Achilles' heel, as bowlers like Shadab (0/49 in 8 overs) and Usama Mir (0/55 in 8 overs) lacked the quality required for World Cup success. In the context of the tournament, these performances fell short. Notably, Yuzvendra Chahal, one of the world's best wrist spinners, remained excluded from the Indian team.
During Afghanistan's chase, Gurbaz showed no fear against Pakistan's formidable bowling attack, including Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan, and Haris Rauf. Pakistan's bowlers conceded too many boundaries in the initial 15 overs, as Gurbaz exploited the short and wide deliveries outside the off-stump, hitting nine fours and a six. His aggressive play, particularly through point and backward point regions, put the pressure on Pakistan.
Pakistan's fielding was also subpar, with several fielders trying to deflect blame publicly, including skipper Babar Azam, who lost his composure while trying to prevent overthrows.
Before Pakistan's innings, Babar played a composed half-century, while opener Abdullah Shafique contributed 58 runs off 75 balls. If it weren't for the late efforts of Iftikhar Ahmed and Shadab Khan, Pakistan's total would have been significantly lower. Iftikhar smashed a quick 27-ball 40, and Shadab added 40 runs in 38 deliveries. Afghanistan had anticipated a slow pitch and fielded four spinners but found the track to be better than expected.
In the early stages of Pakistan's innings, Shafique and Imam-ul-Haq cautiously accumulated runs, with a 56-run partnership before the first breakthrough, with Imam falling to Azmatullah Omarzai. Shafique then partnered with skipper Babar, contributing 54 runs for the second wicket. During this period, Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan, Afghanistan's spinners, maintained control over the game, preventing the Pakistani batsmen from unleashing their shots. Shafique secured his third ODI half-century, while Babar balanced aggression with caution.