Shahid Afridi held his nerve by not throwing his wicket away and steering Pakistan to an enthralling one-wicket win over India in a humdinger Asia Cup clash at Mirpur on Sunday night. Needing 10 runs to win in the final over, bowled by Ravinchandran Ashwin, the maverick all-rounder hit back-to-back towering sixes to take his side past India’s total of 245/8. However, he knock came under immense pressure.
“I was really under pressure because I didn’t perform well in previous games. I’m glad I delivered at the right time,” he said after his match-winning 18-ball 34.
Despite his indifferent form with the bat in the recent past, Afridi, who incidentally turned 34 on Saturday, said that the Pakistan dressing room had a lot of hopes and expectations from him in the marquee clash.
“I was under pressure and the expectations were high on me. This match was very important,” he said.
Having lost well-set Mohammad Hafeez and Sahaib Maqsood in quick succession, Pakistan needed 43 runs from 38 balls, requiring a steady head from their numbers 7 and 8. Afridi answered the call with a reassuring 33-run stand with Umar Gul (12) for the seventh wicket. Afridi thanked Gul for playing the ultimate supporting role.
“Umar Gul played a good supporting role. He was talking a lot with me, we wanted singles as well and we needed a hit as well,” he added.
With nine points from three games, table toppers Pakistan have done well so far in their attempt to defend their Asia Cup crown and look all but certain to enter the final. After gaining confidence from the tense victory, Afridi has set his sights on nothing but a tournament win.
“When we came here we wanted to win this tournament. A win is important for our country,” Afridi said, before joining his team in celebrations.