Akmal century guides Pakistan to 248-8
FATULLAH, Bangladesh (AP) — Umar Akmal hit a scintillating one-day century and lifted defending champion Pakistan to 248-8 in the Asia Cup match against a spirited Afghanistan on Thursday.
Akmal made the most of a dropped catch on 28 to make an unbeaten 102 off 89 balls that equals his only previous ODI century, against Sri Lanka in 2009.
Afghanistan, making its maiden appearance in the Asia Cup, had had Pakistan on the ropes at 117-6 before Akmal took charge.
Akmal added 60 runs with Anwar Ali (21) before raising his century in the last over by hitting fast bowler Dawlat Zadran for two fours and a six over long-on.
Pakistan’s brittle top order struggled despite opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad scoring 50 as seamer Mirwais Ashraf and legspinner Samiullah Shenwari chipped in with two wickets each.
Shehzad and Sharjeel Khan (25) provided a decent start of 55 after Afghanistan captain Mohmmad Nabi won the toss and opted to field first, before Pakistan’s innings disintegrated mainly due to poor shot selection.
Khan and Mohammad Hafeez (10), Sohaib Maqsood (13) and Shahid Afridi (6) all fell to reckless shots while Shenwari clean bowled Shehzad off a flatter delivery in his first over soon after the opener completed his fifty.
Captain Misbah-ul-Haq was run out in a bizarre fashion without facing a delivery in a terrible mixup with Maqsood, who first called for the run but slipped after taking few steps and both batsmen ended up at the striker’s end.
Ali, the only change made by Pakistan from the team that lost the opening match by 12 runs against Sri Lanka, had dragged the total to 146 before Shenwari could not hold onto Akmal’s skier off leftarm fast bowler Shapoor Zadran in the second batting powerplay.
Akmal pounced on the opportunity and completed his half-century off 60 balls before Ali was brilliantly caught by former captain Nowroz Mangal, who ran back from mid-off and plucked a two-handed catch.
However, Akmal upped the scoring rate at a brisk pace by raising his second fifty off a mere 28 deliveries by hitting a further five boundaries and two sixes as Pakistan made 84 runs in the last 10 overs.