Shahid Afridi quick-fired 34 off 18 deliveries to help Pakistan survive anxious moments to overcome India by one wicket in a thrilling last-over finish in their third Asia Cup match in Shere-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur on Sunday.
With the win, the defending champions Pakistan kept their hope for the final of the meet alive.
Chasing 246 runs, Pakistan reached their target making 249 runs for 9 in 49.4 overs.
Pakistan entered the last over with 10 needed off six balls with 2 wickets in hand.
Things became difficult for the defending champions with Saeed Ajmal getting out in the first delivery of Ravichandran Ashwin. Mohammad Talha scored 1 run in the second delivery leaving the equation: 9 required off 4 balls.
However, Shahid Afridi changed the scenario hitting two sixes off the next two consecutive deliveries to seal the victory. His score of 34 not out featured two fours and three sixes.
Mohammad Hafeez made a good platform for Pakistan victory making 75 runs off 117 deliveries featuring three fours and two sixes and also took two grabbed two wickets for his side to be adjudged man of the match.
In the 5th wicket stand Mohammad Hafeez paring with Sohaib Maqsood repaired the early damage making 87 runs in 21 overs lifting the team total to 200.
Pakistan lost four wickets quickly when the team total was 113.
Besides, Ahmed Shehzad scored 42 runs while number six Sohaib Maqsood 38 runs, Sharjeel Khan 25 runs and Umar Gul made 12 runs.
Ravichandran Ashwin claimed three wickets for 44 runs while Amit Mishra and Bhuvneshwar Kumar took two wickets each conceding 28 and 56 runs respectively.
Earlier, a late strike by Ravindra Jadeja and two half centuries by Rohit Sharma and Ambati Rayudu guided India to post a fighting total of 245 for 8 over against holders Pakistan.
Rohit Sharma’s 56 gave the early impetus, before Ambati Rayudu added 58 runs in the middle order. Ravindra Jadeja’s not out 52 enabled the world champions India to post a respectable total , even though Saeed Ajmal capped a fine day with wickets at the other end.
Saeed Ajmal went wicket-less in the middle overs before reaping three wickets in his death-spell, conceding 40 runs in 10 overs. The diminutive right-arm off-break bowler dismissed highest scorer Rayudu (58), Ravichandran Ashwin (9) and Mohammad Shami (0).
Number seven batsman Jadeja hammered an unconquered 52 runs off 49 balls with four fours and two sixes, number five Rayudu contributed team highest 58 runs off 62 balls with four fours and a six while opener Rohit Sharma scored his 22nd ODI half century making 56 runs off 58 balls that featured seven fours and two sixes.
Sent into bat first, India began aggressively to score six runs an over till the 10th over, despite losing opener Shikhar Dhawan (10) and most reliable batsman cum Indian captain Virat Kohli (5) for 56 in 9.1 overs.
Mohammad Hafeez made the early breakthrough trapping leg before opener Shikhar Dhawan for 10 when he tried to play off the back foot, leaving team total 18 for 1 in the last ball of the 3rd over.
Umar Gul took the prized wicket of Indian skipper Virat Kohli, who gave his wicket away playing short ball off the face of the bat, which went straight to wicket keeper Umar Akmal with scoreboard showing 56 for 2 in 9.1 overs.
Debutant seamer Mohammad Talha dealt the most telling blows in the marquee Asia Cup clash forcing India to be stuck at 113 for 4 in 25 overs dismissing half-centurian Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane (23) in his first ODI spell after India’s reliable batsman Virat Kohli had been snapped up by Umar Gul earlier.
Rahane burnished his 50-ball 23-run innings with three boundaries while wicket keeper Dinesh Karthik contributed 46-ball 23 runs with one boundary.
Apart from Saeed Ajmal’s three-wicket haul, Moahmmad Talha and Mohammad Hafeez grabbed two wickets each for 22 and 38 runs respectively while Umal Gul took one wicket for 60 runs.