All-rounder Imad Wasim's unbeaten 49 guided Pakistan to a thrilling three-wicket victory over minnows Afghanistan in Leeds on Saturday, maintaining their hopes of reaching the World Cup semi-finals.
Chasing a target of 228, Pakistan lost opener Fakhar Zaman for a duck on the second ball of the innings when he was trapped leg-before by off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Babar Azam, who scored his maiden World Cup century in Pakistan's win over New Zealand earlier this week, combined with Imamul Haq to stabilise the innings with a steady 72-run partnership.
Off-spinner Mohammad Nabi removed the pair to expose the middle order, before Mohammad Hafeez and Haris Sohail fell cheaply to leave Pakistan reeling at 142-5. Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed (18) and Shadab Khan (11) were run-out to set up an intense finale but Wasim and Wahab Riaz (15) ensured there were no further hiccups as they chased down the target with two balls to spare.
Pakistan now need to win their final match against Bangladesh on Friday and hope other results go their way to advance to the semi-finals.
Earlier, Pakistan fast bowler Shaheen Afridi claimed four wickets to restrict Afghanistan to a modest 227 for nine from 50 overs on a flat batting track at Headingley.
Speaking at the post-match presentation ceremony, Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed Wasim’s brilliant innings under pressure.
"It is a great win for us. Not an easy pitch to bat on, but credit goes to Imad,” said Sarfaraz. “The way he batted, the way he handled pressure, hats off to him. We knew it was not an easy chase, their bowlers used the conditions very well. Babar and Imam played very well, we needed a partnership in the middle that didn't happen, but we got it in the end.”
He also praised the bowling of young pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi, who set the tone for Pakistan’s victory.
“Shaheen Afridi is improving day by day, he's working very hard,” he said. “The other bowlers also bowled really well. All are in good nick.”