MIRPUR, Bangladesh (AP) — Big-hitting batsman Shahid Afridi bludgeoned two consecutive sixes in the last over to give Pakistan a thrilling one-wicket victory over India with two balls to spare in their Asia Cup game on Sunday.
Afridi smashed off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin over the cover and long-on boundaries to seal the win with a sensational 18-ball 34 not out that ensured Mohammad Hafeez's all-round performance did not go to waste.
Hafeez, who had bagged 2-38 earlier in the day, played a responsible knock of 75 to set up the win as Pakistan reached 249-9 in reply to India's 245-8.
Needing 10 to win off the last over after a creditable performance from the Indian spinners had all but denied Pakistan, Afridi saw Saeed Ajmal bowled first ball from behind the legs by Ashwin.
Last-man Junaid Khan then scampered a single to give Afridi the strike and four balls to get the remaining nine runs. Afridi, who had already hit one six and two fours, wasted no time in snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
"I was really under pressure because I did not perform in the first two games," Afridi said. "Expectations were high and we all know how important this game was and I'm glad I did it. Whenever we play against India it's a great occasion and I'm very happy."
Both India and Pakistan had lost to Sri Lanka for an equal one win from two games before this match. Pakistan thus looks set to make the final of the five-team tournament with two wins and a game to go against Bangladesh, while India is unlikely to advance with just one win from three games and only Afghanistan left to play.
The platform for Pakistan's chase was built by Hafeez, who added 87 for the fifth wicket with Sohaib Maqsood (38) in a decisive partnership after Pakistan was 113-4 at one stage.
Hafeez struck three fours and two sixes off 117 deliveries and Maqsood got a 53-ball 38 but their dismissals in successive overs made things tight again. Hafeez was caught at deep square-leg while trying to heave Ashwin for a six while Maqsood was run out three runs later.
Earlier, off-spinners Ajmal and Hafeez shared five wickets to limit five-time champion India's scoring.
Ajmal grabbed 3-40 and played an important part in restricting scoring toward the end while Hafeez began the regular flow of wickets.
India was also troubled by debutant pace bowler Mohammad Talha, who chipped in with 2-22 off seven overs but was not used in the end overs.
Ambati Rayudu (58), Rohit Sharma (56) and Ravindra Jadeja (52 not out) all scored half-centuries to lift India to a competitive total.
Sharma produced a neat 58-ball cameo, striking seven fours and two pulled sixes before he tried another pull off Talha but was caught by Hafeez, who took a fine catch running back from mid-wicket.
Ajinkya Rahane also fell to Talha, who has played two tests for Pakistan and hurried the batsmen with his pace.
Rayudu batted himself in along with Rahane (23), hitting four fours and a six over mid-wicket to leg-spinner Shahid Afridi. He was one of Ajmal's important victims as he perished trying to push the run rate and holed out to the deep.
Jadeja, who was dropped by Hafeez off his own bowling when on 12, provided a late boost smashing four fours and two sixes off 49 balls.
Early in the day, Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq's decision to open the bowling with spinner Hafeez paid off as opener Shikhar Dhawan was trapped lbw for 10 going on the back foot and playing across the line.
In-form batsman Virat Kohli, leading the team in this tournament due to an injury to regular captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, went for 5 when he edged one behind the stumps trying to guide a delivery from Umar Gul down to third man.