India v Pakistan, Asia Cup, Mirpur March 2, 2014

Afridi sixes seal final-over victory


Pakistan 249 for 9 (Hafeez 75, Shehzad 42, Afridi 34*, Ashwin 3-44) beat India 245 for 8 (Rayudu 58, Rohit 56, Jadeja 52*, Ajmal 3-40) by one wicket
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

No other cricketer in his generation blends genius so liberally with lunacy as Shahid Afridi, and though there were glimpses of both in Mirpur, Afridi sent Pakistan's fans into raptures and endeared himself to them again, as only he can, with two mighty blows during an incredibly tense final over. The India-Pakistan clash was given a finish deserving of its profile, as Pakistan ran India's 245 down with two balls and one wicket remaining. Unless a major upset occurs over the next few days, Pakistan will most likely play Sri Lanka in the final of the Asia Cup.

Mohammad Hafeez and Sohaib Maqsood had massaged the chase to a manageable position in an 87-run fifth wicket stand, but they departed in quick succession and left their team's fate in Afridi's comically mercurial hands. Having run Maqsood out and played one of his no-look slogs second ball, Afridi proceeded to bat intelligently with Umar Gul - the pair struck calculated blows to reel in the target. With 11 required off the last 10 balls, and four wickets still in hand, Pakistan appeared to be cruising home. Then, three wickets fell in five balls.

It was down to nine off four when Afridi took strike in the final over. R Ashwin had bowled beautifully throughout the innings, but he was no match for the Afridi whirlwind at the end. The batsman backed away and walloped one over extra cover to give voice to the Pakistan fans in the stadium, before, with only three needed off three, he sought to hammer Ashwin out of the ground again. This time he went over long-on, and though he seemed to have miscued it, sending the ball high into the night, it too sailed over the rope, gaining the few extra yards seemingly through nothing but Afridi's force of will.

Earlier, Pakistan had been 113 for 4 in pursuit of 246, when Hafeez arrested the slide with a period of risk-free accumulation. Pakistan's run rate had been excellent in the opening overs, which gave Hafeez room to breathe, as did the opposition's expenditure of energy on dismissing an out-of-sorts Maqsood at the other end. Unsteadily Maqsood survived, with the aid of Hafeez' advice, before he too began to exert some control on the innings. The pair were watchful against spin, but made headway in the overs from the quicks.

Hafeez made his 19th ODI fifty during their stand, which did not gather pace until the dew both captains had dreaded at the toss began to materialise, at around the 40th over. That urgency brought wickets however. Hafeez top-edged a sweep off Ashwin to deep square leg, before Maqsood set out for a tight single and was sent back too late by Afridi, with 44 still required off 36. Afridi then took control, with help from Umar Gul, who made a run-a-ball12.

When Pakistan bowled, Saeed Ajmal had gone wicketless in his first eight overs, but that was largely because India had resorted to reticence as they collectively failed to decipher his doosra. As he sent down tight, menacing overs, Ajmal's team-mates reaped the rewards of his control. Debutant Mohammad Talha's two wickets came as he bowled in tandem with Ajmal, while Hafeez claimed Dinesh Karthik's scalp in the 37th over as Ajmal operated at the other end. Ajmal would eventually have scalps to show for his mastery. He dismissed Ambati Rayudu in the 47th over, before striking twice in the 49th, when he conceded only one run.

Rohit Sharma's 56 had given India's innings the early impetus, before Ambati Rayudu gathered 58 through the middle overs, and Ravindra Jadeja struck an unbeaten 52 off 49 balls at the close.

On a benign surface that provided no lateral movement for the seamers, Rohit was particularly severe on errant lengths. A short-of-a-length Junaid Khan delivery was whipped over the deep midwicket rope in the seventh over, before the next ball was clipped to the fine leg fence. When Misbah-ul-Haq kept Junaid on for another over, Rohit welcomed him with a lofted off-drive, before coming down the track to repeat the dose three balls later.

Dhawan and Kohli's dismissals did not cow him, but when Ajmal and Talha dried up the runs in tandem, his mistake came. He mis-hit a pull off Talha, and Hafeez took a good running catch over his shoulder to hand the seamer his first ODI scalp. Ajinkya Rahane also succumbed to Talha soon after, leaving India at 103 for 4, before Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik put on a measured 52 together.

Jadeja worked the field superbly in his late charge, and twice he cleared the front leg and sent Ajmal and Umar Gul over the cow-corner boundary. That would be his most fruitful area, but though Rayudu and Ashwin contributed useful boundaries, Jadeja lacked sustained support.

There were costly misses for India in Pakistan's innings. Karthik failed to stump Sohaib Maqsood after Ashwin had set him up so beautifully on 21, and a run-out chance was missed a few overs later. But perhaps those errors simply evened out the reprieves they themselves had enjoyed. Jadeja should have been out lbw to Hafeez on 7 but was not given out, and he was dropped by Hafeez for 12 soon after. Jadeja's next 40 runs would come off 24 balls, propelling India towards a competitive, but ultimately insufficient, total.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 7, 2014, 8:24 GMT

    afridi is simply superb with his batting want to see solid punch in final man

  • ESPN on March 7, 2014, 5:47 GMT

    The power Of PATHAN can pick any ball for long six

  • Anand on March 6, 2014, 7:08 GMT

    yaa that was a good show from pakistan but i think they panicked in their chase as they always favorites to win that match. India is lucky to even reach the total of 245 as umpires helped them to be there. Pakistan should have been won that match before 50th over. However afridi again become hero by hitting 2 sixes in the last over. He is still very good allrounder from pakistan and all the cry to get him out of the side is unnecessary.

  • Dummy4 on March 5, 2014, 11:09 GMT

    Pakistan showed that she is better than BIG 3

  • Dummy4 on March 5, 2014, 10:32 GMT

    Mr LION WITH A ROAR - Chill Out!! You don't have the batting talent in the form of Afridi, you had an expert Mr Jayasuriya who is no more... So lets not start challenging each other. Let's wait for the day and please ask your SL bros and sis' to pray that its not an Arfidi day again, Otherwise its gonna be terrible sight for Sri Lankan fans. Which i am sure it will be.. GOOD LUCK!!

  • Amaan on March 5, 2014, 8:18 GMT

    YES!!! HURRAY!! I'm soo happy that Ban lost! They have lost ALL of their matches in 2014 and deservedly so. BTW, Pak please don't kid yourself, we all know that you won because of the very poor and talentless Ban bowling attack and not because of ur batting skills. SL win the Asia Cup for the 5th time! GO LIONS!!

  • Matthew on March 5, 2014, 3:40 GMT

    Congrats Pakistan and Bangladesh! I have to say that I was really impressed with Bangladesh's performance...I honestly thought you had us beat in the game. I think Bangladesh has so much potential in this team. I hope they keep this up and they will beat the BIG 3 easily. As for Afridi, what can I say...WOW.

    I can't wait to see the game against SL in the final. SL is my second favourite team...another great bunch of players. Good luck to SL and Pakistan in the final. Pakistani fan

  • jithender on March 5, 2014, 2:40 GMT

    well fielding lapses are part and parcel of the game. time and again captains asked a spinner to bowl the last over of an odi with disastrous consequences. and i suppose will never learn from their mistakes.dhoni also made jadeja bowl the last over and shoib malik blasted 13 runs to win.unwritten rule, never ever ask a spinner to bowl the last over,no matter who you are or what the match situation is.saqlain bowling at his peak bowled a disastrous last over against india while they were chasing a 300+total. there are umpteenth examples of a spinner failing to deliver a match winning last over.i hope india does not repeat this mistake again.

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2014, 22:31 GMT

    It was a tense, exciting punch per punch gladiator stuff and in the end Pakistan with Afridi came up with the knock out blow against India. So why don't we have more of the thrills and spills between India and Pakistan? Well the Indians always cite political tensions. In reality, the Indians see it as war - if they were to lose to Pakistan then as a nation they'd be losing war. You don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to work this out. In fact Wasim Akram coaches Indians, Indian music industry uses tons of Pakistani songs ( the Indians are not aware).Moreover, the Indians are always busy recruiting our established artists, such as, Rahat, Fateh Ali, Ataf, and Bagga etc. If the embargo on Pakistan cricket was truly due to political tensions, then the Indians would not be so selective - they would be barring our cricket coaches, artists, musicians, writers and use of our songs etc. There - I rest my case. This is sinister and by design - about time we learnt not to bother with India.

  • faizullah on March 4, 2014, 19:46 GMT

    despite so many hurdles for pakisatan e.g terrorism and now monopolist big3 obviously against pakistan, we perform very well as compare to india. and if you look at india they are loins at their home ground, and you said that the people of the world dont like to visit pakistan that is right, but now see the out come here that pakistan beat the people ate their home grounds. if this was the situation with india what would be the position.......