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T20 World Cup 2021 | Backed myself to get 20-25 in the 19th over, says Asif Ali after match-winning blitz against Afghanistan

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Asif Ali (left) scored 25* off 7 to power Pakistan to their third win at T20 World Cup 2021

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T20 World Cup 2021 | Backed myself to get 20-25 in the 19th over, says Asif Ali after match-winning blitz against Afghanistan

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SportsCafe Desk

10/29/2021

With 24 needed off 12, Asif Ali struck four sixes off Karim Janat in the penultimate over to power Pakistan to a five-wicket win over Afghanistan in Dubai on Friday. It was the third straight win for Pakistan at the T20 World Cup 2021, after they had beaten India and New Zealand earlier.

Babar Azam scored his 21st T20I fifty, and added crucial partnerships with Fakhar Zaman (30) and Shoaib Malik (19), after Mohammed Rizwan was dismissed early in the run-chase of 148. Rashid Khan weaved his magic then, and dismissed Babar on the last ball of his spell, before Malik fell to Naveen-ul-Haq in an impressive 18th over. The Afghanistan stalwart became the fastest bowler to 100 T20I wickets during his four-over spell, which yielded 2/26.

With 24 required off 13, Asif Ali denied Shadab Khan a single to retain the strike, and struck four sixes in the next over from Karim Janat to seal the contest. The right-hander bettered his feat from the previous outing against New Zealand in Sharjah earlier this week, when he had smashed an unbeaten 12-ball 27 to guide Pakistan home.

Earlier, it was an unbeaten 71-run partnership for the sixth wicket Mohammad Nabi and Gulbadin Naib, both of whom scored 35* each to guide Afghanistan to 147/6 after they stood at 76/6 in the 13th over.

Asif Ali looked back at his game-defining innings.

"The boundary was small from this end so I told my partner I'd go for it this over. Thank God we pulled it off,” Asif reflected, as he received the Player of the Match award. 

“I look at the situation and what it demands and which bowler has overs remaining, and the field setting. I told Shoaib that Naveen was bowling well, and from this end I could even score 20-25 in an over. So I planned for it."

Babar praised his bowlers and Asif for his late blitz, as he looked back at the win.

“We started well with the ball, got a lot of wickets like we planned,” Babar said after the match. “Maybe, we gave away 10-15 runs too many at the end. With the bat, we couldn't capitalise the powerplay as we wanted to. At the end, with Malik and Asif Ali, we knew they could do the job.

“He (Asif Ali) is known for this and I was confident pre-tournament itself that he would deliver when needed. We planned our strategies well with the ball, and also ensured that he kept the uneven boundary dimensions in mind while bowling. 

“Spinners were getting some grip from the track, Afghanistan have quality bowlers too and I was trying to take it as deep as possible. Unfortunately I couldn't finish things off but credit to Asif Ali.”

Pakistan comfortably sit at the top of Group 2 points table with three wins out of three and a healthy net run-rate (NRR) of +0.638.

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