COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Pakistan routed Afghanistan 3-0 in their one-day international series after winning the final game by 59 runs at R. Premadasa Stadium on Saturday.
Victory enabled Pakistan to regain the No. 1 world ranking, replacing Australia.
“Really thrilled to claim that No. 1 spot,” Pakistan captain Babar Azam said. “All credit to the boys for they have worked really hard.”
Set a target of 269, Afghanistan was never in the hunt. First, Pakistan's seamers troubled the batsmen with pace and bounce on a two-paced pitch and then the spinners made life difficult with regular breakthroughs.
Right-arm quick Faheem Ashraf claimed two early wickets with the new ball including the big wicket of Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who posted a career-best 151 in the second ODI.
After the two early wickets, captain Hashmatullah Shahidi and Riaz Hassan added 30 runs for the third wicket. That partnership came off 61 balls. Afghanistan needed some momentum and both batters were dismissed in the same over by leg-spinner Shadab Khan.
Hassan was the first to go when attempting a slog sweep. He top-edged the leg-spinner and Fakhar Zaman at deep fine leg held onto the chance.
Three balls later, Shahidi was caught at short mid-wicket.
Afghanistan lost a third wicket in the space of 10 deliveries for the addition of two runs when part-time off-spinner Agha Salman had Gulbadin Naib caught behind to leave Afghanistan in serious trouble at 62-5.
Mohammad Nawaz then took over and claimed two wickets with his left-arm spin.
There was a brief recovery as Mujeeb ur Rahman posted the fastest half-century by an Afghan in ODIs. The off-spinner reached the milestone in 26 deliveries, beating Rashid Khan’s record off 27 balls.
Mujeeb and Shahidullah Kamal added 57 off 42 balls for the eighth wicket.
Shadab provided the breakthrough, trapping Shahidullah leg before wicket. The batsman walked off reluctantly, unable to review with the Hawk Eye malfunctioning. Shadab finished with three wickets.
Mujeeb’s innings was ruled out hit wicket, having trampled on the stumps while playing on the back foot to Shaheen Afridi. Mujeeb became the first Afghan to be dismissed in that fashion. His 64 off 37 balls came with five fours and five sixes. It was his maiden half-century in international cricket.
“Afghanistan are a side that has a good spin attack, and conditions suited them so that was a challenge,” Babar said. “We had to build partnership and be patient and play long innings.”
Pakistan, after winning the series on Thursday, rested four players and their reserves were quite impressive.
Half-centuries by Babar (60) and Mohammad Rizwan (67) steadied Pakistan after it elected to bat first. Still, at 189-6 in the 41st over, it was far from a competitive total.
Mohammad Nawaz and Agha Salman then added 61 runs for the seventh wicket to push Pakistan beyond 250.
Salman posted an unbeaten 38 and Nawaz chipped in with 30.
Fareed Ahmad and Gulbadin Naib claimed two wickets apiece.
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