The back-to-back sixes smashed by his No. 10 batter Naseem Shah in the final over of the Asia Cup 2022 Super Four stage match against Afghanistan reminded Pakistan skipper Babar Azam of the last-ball six hit by the legendary Javed Miandad in the same Sharjah International Stadium a few decades back.
Pakistan, who had to win the match to put India out of contention, needed 20 off 10 balls with two wickets in hand when Naseem Shah walked out to the middle. The tailender, who had only ever faced one ball in T20Is before this, had the experienced Asif Ali at the other end and he quickly turned over the strike to his more senior teammate.
But panic set in when Ali was dismissed on the fifth ball of the penultimate over, with Naseem then deciding to take it upon himself from that point with Pakistan still requiring 13 runs to register the victory.
Fazalhaq Farooqi, who had figures of 3-0-19-3 until that point, was due to bowl the final over and Naseem said he was prepared for the yorkers that would come his way.
In the last over, Naseem Shah smashed two back-to-back sixes to seal the game for Pakistan and take Men in Green to the final of the multi-nation tournament.
Skipper Babar Azam heaped praise on Naseem Shah and said his heroics reminded him of Javed Miandan’s effort in a last-gasp win for Pakistan. Incidentally, Babar Azam was not even born when Miandad achieved the feat.
“I was in the dressing room. But in the back of my mind, I thought it is cricket, and I have seen Naseem bat like this, so I had a little bit of belief. This reminded me of Javed Miandad’s six in Sharjah,” said Babar Azam.
Miandad had smashed a six off India’s Chetan Sharma in the last ball of the Astral-Asia Cup final to win the title for Pakistan in one of the most memorable and iconic finishes in cricket.
“To be honest, it was quite a tense environment in the dressing room. We couldn’t build partnerships like last few games, but the way Naseem finished it, you could see the mahaul (vibe) after that,” said the Pakistan skipper.
He gave credit to his bowlers for managing to keep Afghanistan to 129/6 in their 20 overs.
“The way we started bowling, we did well. The way we kept them down to 130, want to give credit to the bowlers. As I said before, the lack of partnerships made the game close,” he said.
In reply, Pakistan reached 131/9 in 19.2 overs with Naseem Shah smashing the first two balls of the final over for sixes to seal victory.
Babar Azam also said his batters should have taken more chances against the experienced Afghanistan bowlers Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
“Rashid, Mujeeb and Nabi are one of the best so you need to take chances with them but the main plan was to take it deep,” he said during the post-match ceremony on Wednesday night after Pakistan reached the Asia Cup 2022 final against Sri Lanka. Both of them defeated Afghanistan and India in the Super Four stage.