Fatullah (Bangladesh), Feb 27 :
Umar Akmal’s unbeaten century and a dramatic batting collapse of Afghanistan helped defending champions Pakistan register a 72-run win in the third ODI of the Asia Cup cricket tournament at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium here Thursday.
Chasing a target of 249, Asia Cup debutants Afghanistan were well placed at 139 for two but they lost the last eight wickets for a mere 37 runs and were bowled out for 176 runs in 47.2 overs.
At the end, it turned out to be an easy win with some much needed bonus points for Pakistan, who lost their opening encounter to Sri Lanka.
Noor Ali Zadran (44), Asghar Stanikzai (40) and Nawroz Mangal (35) were the chief contributors for Afghanistan with the bat.
Stanikzai and Mangal were involved in a key 74-run stand for the third wicket that kept Afghaistan in the hunt till the 37th over. But after they departed, Afghanistan lost the plot and a good chance to create an upset.
Spinners Mohammad Hafeez (3/29) and Saeed Ajmal (2/25) wiped out the lower middle-order wile paceman Umar Guul picked up two for 44.
Earlier put in, Akmal’s unbeaten 102 helped Pakistan save the blushes and reach a competitive 248 for eight in 50 overs.
Opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad and Sharjeel Khan provided Pakistan good start with their 55-run stand. Shehzad made 50 off 74 balls with seven fours while Sharjeel scored 25 off 37 balls with two boundaries and a six.
But it was was Sharjeel’s dismissal in the 13th over that triggered a batting collapse and Pakistan were soon reeling at 117 for six in the 30th over.
Akmal, who struck seven fours and three sixes in his blazing 89-ball knock, must be thanking his stars since Samiullah Shenwari dropped him off Shapoor Zadran when the batsman was on 28.
Had Shenwari not dropped the skier, Pakistan would have been reduced to 144 for seven. It was the only blemish on the field for the otherwise brilliant Afghanistan fielders, who made some stunning saves.
Akmal and Anwar Ali (21) then rescue Pakistan innings with a valiant 60-run stand for the seventh wicket. Akmal made the most of the life that he got and also got to his second ODI century in style with a six off the penultimate delivery.
For Afghanistan, Mirwais Ashraf, Shenwari and Dawlat Zadran claimed two wickets each.