Asia Cup: Brutal Shahid Afridi ensures India’s exit
If Shahid Afridi was explosive on Sunday night, he was brutal on Tuesday. And on both occasions, he hurt India.
India waited at the exit door after Afridi’s attack had left them without an answer on Sunday. Only a Bangladesh victory could keep India in, a result Afridi would never allow.
Another round of merciless strikes by the all-rounder, this time against the hosts, put the world champions out of the Asia Cup.
In a contest that saw two centuries and six fifties, it was Afridi’s booming shots that robbed Bangladesh of an upset triumph.
Walking in, again with the team facing an embarrassing loss and questions about Pakistan’s lack of intent that would have followed, Afridi stamped out any doubt while crushing Bangladesh.
With 102 required of 52 balls with five wickets in hand, Afridi cleared his front foot to Mahmudullah’s over-pitched off-spin and said hello to a nearly-packed Sher-e-Bangla stadium with a six. Two balls later, Afridi repeated the shot. The same crowd that had cheered for him on Sunday was left dazed.
The next over, Afridi swung Shakib-al-Hasan’s left-arm spin for three maximums. His 25-ball onslaught included seven sixes and two boundaries. He survived a dropped catch and the bails did not fall after the ball brushed the leg stump on another occasion. When he finally walked back for 59, the equation was down to 33 of 19.
Pakistan had held Umar Akmal back, having sent Abdur Rehman at six, which aided the finish. Akmal combined with Fawad Alam to leave hardly any doubts about the result. Eventually, Pakistan overhauled Bangladesh’s 326 for three with a ball and three wickets to spare.
Alam himself had scored a poised 74. The importance of the knock was overshadowed, however, by the destruction of Afridi braving cramp and the century by Ahmed Shehzad.
To start with, Shehzad (103) had grafted to the extent of drilling a hole for Pakistan to fall into. Fortunately for him, Mohammad Hafeez kept the score moving, before Shehzad joined the party. For most of the game, however, Bangladesh appeared set to overcome the dejection of the Afghanistan loss.