Asian Games 2010, 1st semi-final, Guangzhou November 25, 2010

Afghanistan upset Pakistan to reach final

ESPNcricinfo staff

Afghanistan 125 for 8 (Noori 35) beat Pakistan 103 for 7 (Latif 26) by 22 runs

Afghanistan stunned a second-string Pakistan in the semi-finals of the Asian Games in Guangzhou to continue their fairytale run in cricket over the past two years. This victory assures them of at least a silver, boosting the medals tally of a nation that has only two medals - both in taekwondo - in the Asian Games.

They will face Bangladesh, who beat Sri Lanka by five wickets in the second semi-final, in Friday's title match.

It's been a low-scoring tournament so far, and Afghanistan's 125, after being sent in, was a competitive total. Eighteen-year-old Shabir Noori top scored with 35 to revive Afghanistan after they had slid to 55 for 4, but another bunch of wickets towards the end prevented a big final push.

Pakistan's opening pair, Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif, began the chase in a hurry, racing to 30 off three overs, seemingly setting the platform for a straightforward victory. Sharjeel then fell lbw to Mirwaiz Ashraf for 23, but Latif guided Pakistan to 60 for 1. There was a heated exchange between Latif and Afghanistan wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad, which needed the umpires to intervene. Latif was then dismissed lbw, and Naeemuddin Qazi was run out soon after, and two wickets in an over from offspinner Karim Sadiq left Pakistan at 68 for 5.

With the asking-rate mounting, the Pakistan lower-order was unable to find the boundary and Afghanistan completed a famous upset.

"It's a big win for Afghanistan," their captain Mohammad Nabi said. "Every person there is watching the match and everybody is happy about this win. I'm very satisfied because we have fantastic fitness levels and the boys have worked very hard in every position, whether it's fielding, bowling or batting. "

The vice-captain, Sadiq, said the whole the country was behind the team. "On TV last night in Afghanistan, they told people to pray that we would win," he said. "Tonight they will be celebrating all over the country. It's a dream for us."