The matches between Pakistan and Afghanistan have over time grown to be among the most thrilling in all of cricket. The intensity and excitement displayed by both teams when competing against one another is unmatched by any other cricket match, occasionally even surpassing Pakistan vs. India and England vs. Australia.
It has always been the high-octane battles between the two teams that light up international cricket tournaments, and the present 2022 Asia Cup was no exception as they played out yet another thrilling conclusion.
Over the past few years, both sides have engaged in some exhilarating games. Pakistan has faced Afghanistan in 3 T20Is and 4 ODIs overall, and the Men in Green have won each match, albeit narrowly. Here are the five closest clashes between the two sides.
Only T20I (2013)
In the first T20I between the two teams, Mohammad Hafeez’s valiant efforts saved Pakistan from certain defeat. Cricket fans could not have asked for more from the 2013 game at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
In their opening innings, Afghanistan could only score 137/8 in 20 overs due to Pakistan’s bowling attack’s constant disruption of the batters. As the game’s star, Junaid Khan amassed 3/24 runs in his four overs.
Ahmed Shehzad and Sharjeel Khan gave Pakistan a strong start, but they quickly lost both of their openers in the middle of their innings. Mohammad Hafeez, the captain of Pakistan, came up and managed the innings before attacking the bowlers, please.
With six wickets in hand, Hafeez’s match-winning innings of 42 runs off 37 balls helped Pakistan defeat Afghanistan in the final over. Pakistan won the single T20I of the tour, and as a result, they claimed a 1-0 series victory.
Asia Cup 2018
The two teams this time met in an ODI format during the 2018 Asia Cup. The Men in Green won the game on the very last over, making it another another classic.
Once more, Afghanistan batted first and amassed a respectable score of 256/7 in 50 overs. For Afghanistan, Hashmatullah Shahidi scored an unbeaten 97, and Mohammad Nawaz was the star bowler, taking 3/57 in his allotted 10 overs.
Fakhar Zaman’s return in the opening over of the game put Pakistan’s run chase in jeopardy. Babar Azam and Imam-ul-Haq formed an incredible partnership before losing their wickets quickly one after the other. Shoaib Malik maintained Pakistan’s innings together while they continued to lose wickets at regular intervals.
Malik came on to hit sixes and fours in the final over with 10 runs needed to win the game for the Green Shirts.
2021 T20 World Cup
Mohammad Nabi and Gulbadin Naib’s spirited late flurry during Afghanistan’s opening batting innings enabled the side achieve a respectable score of 147/6 in 20 overs. All five of the Pakistani bowlers claimed significant wickets, making their bowling assault excellent throughout the entire game.
In response, Pakistan initially struggled as Afghanistan’s spin attack took control of the game. With Pakistan needed 24 off the last two overs, up stepped Asif Ali who put the situation into his own hands. In the penultimate over of Karim Janat, Asif hit four sixes, giving Pakistan a stunning victory.
2019 ICC ODI World Cup
Asghar Afghan and Najibullah Zadran both made significant contributions to Afghanistan’s final score of 227/9 in 50 overs. Shaheen Afridi, a 16-year-old bowling prodigy from Pakistan, was the game’s star performer, taking 4 wickets for 47 runs in his 10 overs.
Fakhar Zaman, Pakistan’s opening batter, once again failed to worry the scorers, and Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam were held accountable. After putting up strong stands, both batters left, allowing the batting order to once again collapse.
The Afghan bowlers’ spin was too much for the Green Shirts to handle, and they frequently lost wickets as a result. The only person standing between Afghanistan and victory was Imad Wasim. Imad participated in a game of Wahab Riaz, who against Rashid Khan hit a six with a fractured hand, helped him out admirably. With two balls remaining, the Men in Green prevailed in the game.
2022 Asia Cup
Following a goal of 130, the Men in Green once more fell as the Afghan bowlers tightened the screws. Before Pakistan’s young express pacer, Naseem Shah, took the field, chasing down the target appeared to be an impossible task as wickets were falling left, right, and centre.
It appeared to be game over for Pakistan with just one wicket left to go and 12 runs needed off the last over. Fazalhaq Farooqi was hit by two back-to-back sixes from Naseem Shah, sending Pakistan home and once more breaking the hearts of Afghan fans.
For years to come, Pakistani cricket fans will never forget Naseem Shah’s last over heroics, and they’ll never forget the Men in Green’s gallant response when they had their backs against the wall.