Afghanistan have created another shock at the Cricket World Cup, beating Pakistan in an ODI for the first time in their history.
Their eight-wicket win is a second bonus result for Australia after Afghanistan also defeated England. Should Pat Cummins’ team beat Netherlands on Wednesday they will have a two-point gap (one win) in the fourth and final qualifying spot, and a handsome net-run-rate lead.
Three wins from their remaining four matches should thus be enough to make the semi-finals.
Afghanistan had only previously won one World Cup match, against Scotland, now they have defeated two Test nations in the same competition and will harbour dreams of qualifying themselves.
Monday’s win was set up by an aggressive 130-run opening stand between Ibrahim Zadran (87) and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (65) that laid the platform for Afghanistan’s 2-286 in 49 overs.
Rahmat Shah and captain Hashmatullah Shahidi built on the openers’ work sharing an unbeaten 96-run third-wicket stand. Shah finished with 77 while Shahidi scored 48.
At the start of the tournament we said that we are going to make this World Cup historic for our country. First it was England and now Pakistan,” Shahidi said. “This win tastes nice. The way we chased today, it was very professional.”
Pakistan, who won the toss and elected to bat, made 7-282 against a spin-heavy attack with captain Babar Azam (74) and Abdullah Shafique (58) scoring half centuries.
Shadab Khan (40) and Iftikhar Ahmed (40) then added a quickfire 73 for the sixth-wicket stand against the fast bowlers as they plundered 61 runs off the last five overs, but it was not enough.
Noor Ahmad, an 18-year-old World Cup debutant took 3-49 while Mohammad Nabi (1-31) bowled an economical 10-over spell.
“They hurt us,” Babar said. “We had a good total, but in the bowling we were not up to the mark. All credit to the Afghanistan team, the way they played. We couldn’t take wickets in the middle overs and our bowlers didn’t hit the right lengths – especially spinners.”
The jubilant Afghanistan players were applauded by the crowd at the Chidambaram Stadium as they took the victory lap with star legspinner Rashid Khan having the country’s flag wrapped around his shoulder.
A third successive loss has pushed Pakistan into a must-win situation for a place in the semi-finals with only four points from five matches.
Meanwhile Afghanistan’s win means England are bottom of the table.