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Afridi stars as Pakistan restrict Afghanistan to 227 at Headingley

Afghanistan scored their highest total of the tournament when batting first.

Shaheen Afridi starred for Pakistan (Nigel French/PA)
Shaheen Afridi starred for Pakistan (Nigel French/PA)

Pakistan will leapfrog England in the World Cup standings if they can chase down Afghanistan’s modest 227 for nine at a festival atmosphere inside Headingley.

Horns blared and drums regularly sounded as Shaheen Afridi’s four for 47 restricted Afghanistan in demanding temperatures, boosting Pakistan’s hopes of moving into the qualification spots for the semi-finals.

Afridi’s haul included two wickets in two balls in his eventful first over, with Asghar Afghan and Najibullah Zadran joint top-scoring for Afghanistan with contrasting knocks of 42.

Afghanistan’s total may give Pakistan – backed by a boisterous crowd – some pause for thought but it could have been greater had several batsmen not given away their wickets at inopportune moments.

After choosing to bat first, Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib was the first to go. Having taken 10 from Afridi’s first three balls, a review proved he had toe-ended the teenage left-arm paceman behind.

Hashmatullah Shahidi lasted just one ball as a leading edge looped to mid-off.

Ikram Alikhil was content to bed in but he lost Rahmat Shah for company, the opener following Shahidi in attempting to work to the leg-side only to be caught at short cover off Imad Wasim for 35.

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Ikram played the anchor role (Nigel French/PA)

Asghar took a no-nonsense approach on his arrival at the crease, depositing Pakistan’s slow left armer into the stands off his third ball, as Ikram played the anchor role.

On a pitch displaying increasing signs of turn, Asghar pushed the field back with some cavalier strokes and then exploited the gaps and ran hard alongside Ikram to take their side into three figures.

Having lived by the sword, Afghan would take one risk too many, coming down the pitch and missing a wild slog to be bowled by Shadab while Ikram’s 66-ball 24 came to an end when he bizarrely holed out to long-on off Imad.

After 121 for three became 125 for five, there was a lull as Mohammad Nabi and Najibullah attempted to regroup, though the former could not resist pulling the occasionally wayward Wahab Riaz to long leg.

Najibullah reverse swept twice for four but was largely composed in helping Afghanistan beyond 200 and therefore something to defend, playing the situation well.

But as he attempted to unleash the shackles, he inside edged a slash off Afridi on to his stumps in the 45th over.

Afridi had his fourth when a slower ball deceived Rashid Khan, whose drive went straight up in the air, with Fakhar Zaman taking a steepler at mid-off.

Samiullah Shinwari was left frustrated after turning down a single in the penultimate over to protect last man Mujeeb Ur Rahman, thinking there was still one ball left – as displayed on the scoreboard – only for the umpire to call over.

Mujeeb, a genuine number 11, took six from Amir’s final over.

PA

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