‘This win tastes nice’ – Afghanistan jubilant after historic win against Pakistan

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After seven defeats to Pakistan in ODIs, Afghanistan finally got one back, in Chennai on Monday. While Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi, who scored the winning run, said the win “tastes sweet”, veteran allrounder Mohammad Nabi said this win was bigger than the one against England earlier in the tournament.

“This win tastes nice. The way we chased was very professional,” Shahidi said at the post-game presentation ceremony. “The quality cricket we are playing for the last couple of years… the belief was there when we were playing Asia Cup also. At the start of the tournament, I said we want to make this tournament historic for our country’s people. First was England, today Pakistan, and looking forward for the other games.

Nabi was thrilled to finally get a win over Pakistan in the format. “It’s a big moment for the whole team, but also whole Afghanistan as well,” he said. “We have been waiting for the last 10-12 years. We have played around eight games against Pakistan, and we won one game in a big event.

“It’s a big achievement for the guys. From the last three months, we’ve been working very hard. We played a series against Pakistan, then Asia Cup, and then come here to the World Cup. It’s a lovely moment today. We beat England as well, and now Pakistan. The team is confident now. And the team knows if we score around 280-290 on this kind of surface, it’s defendable and chaseable as well.

“I think this is the favourite win, against Pakistan, because [earlier] in the last moments, we used to lose the game [to Pakistan]. Now the way Ibrahim [Zadran] and[[Rahmanullah] Gurbaz started the game, it was a fantastic start. The momentum from that, Rahmat Shah and the captain gave a lovely partnership.

“We play against them the first game in 2014 [2012]. Then Asia Cup, then 2015 World Cup [they didn’t play each other in that tournament], then again Asia Cup, T20 World Cup and 2019 World Cup… a lot of close games. And this is a fantastic moment.”

Half-centuries from Abdullah Shafique and Babar Azam helped Pakistan post 282 in Chennai but a 130-run opening partnership between Ibrahim and Gurbaz laid the platform for Afghanistan’s chase, which was then completed by Rahmat and Shahidi without any hiccups.

Ibrahim earned the Player-of-the-Match award for his assured 87 in the chase, putting on big partnerships with first Gurbaz and then Rahmat. In the eyes of the adjuticators, that topped Noor Ahmad‘s 3 for 49, the wickets those of Abdullah Shafique, Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam.

“Thankful that I performed well in this kind of big event,” Ibrahim said after the match. “I would say I wanted to play with a positive intent, with a positive mindset, so that’s why I did it.”

He credited his long history of playing with Gurbaz for giving Afghanistan solid starts with the bat at the World Cup so far – this was the fourth 100-plus partnership between the two, all of them coming in 2023.

“Many times Gurbaz and me, we have done a brilliant partnership together,” he said. “Few times, not [just] today. We have played a lot of cricket together, right from the Under-16 days. We have a good communication while batting.”

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