Babar Azam has compared Naseem Shah's incredible finish against Afghanistan to an iconic moment in their cricketing history where Javed Miandad had defeated India with a last-ball six. He went on to discuss other aspects of the match and the dressing room environment through the encounter.
While the match-up between Afghanistan and Pakistan was expected to be a closely fought affair given the former's recent showings in the tournament, few thought it would end up producing one of the most intense finishes in recent history. The two sides' encounter at Sharjah on Wednesday saw the Afghans crashing out of the Asia Cup with a defeat while their opponents booked a ticket to the final against Sri Lanka, but not without heaps of drama.
After winning the toss, Pakistan sent their rivals in to bat first and their decision reaped great rewards as the bowlers dominated proceedings. Wickets kept falling at regular intervals but an anchoring knock of 35 from 37 deliveries by Ibrahim Zadran ensured Afghanistan reached a defendable albeit sub-par total of 129/6. However, their bowlers were up to the task as well, giving Pakistan a taste of their own medicine with scalps one after the other.
The Men in Green looked down and out at one stage but Shadab Khan's innings of 36 off 28 balls laced with three sixes gave them a glimmer of hope, while Asif Ali's cameo of 16 at a strike rate of 200 brought them back into the encounter. Eventually, 11 runs were needed off the final over with just one wicket left as Naseem Shah pulled off an improbable win with his batting heroics.
"To be honest, the dressing room was very tense. The team was walking in and out of the dressing room. Excellent with the way Naseem Shah finished it off. Sharjah is always low-scoring, and Mujeeb (Ur Rahman) and Rashid Khan are one of the best bowlers," Babar Azam said in the post-match presentation ceremony as per India Today.
"We just wanted to take the match deep. The way we started with the ball was excellent. In our batting, we didn't execute our plans very well, but Naseem was outstanding," he added.
Ahead of the encounter, Naseem Shah had 77 runs from 20 T20 innings at a dismal average of 7. He had previously scored no runs for the national team across two T20I innings but came up trumps when it mattered. He hammered two attempted yorkers from Fazalhaq Farooqi that had missed their mark for huge sixes, imitating Javed Miandad's incredible feat at the 1986 Austral-Asia Cup where his last-ball six off Chetan Sharma had won them the final against India.
"At the back of my mind, I have seen Naseem play like this earlier, and I had belief in him. This moment reminds me of Javed Miandad's six. We would like to continue this momentum and not repeat our mistakes. Every day is a new day, and we would like to take it day by day," Babar concluded on the matter.