Following impressive fifties by top-order batsmen Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam, Pakistan's most experienced batsman Shoaib Malik smashed a match-winning half-century to guide his team to a thrilling three-wicket win against Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. (HIGHLIGHTS)
Earlier, Hashmatullah Shahidi (97) missed out on his maiden ODI hundred by just three runs after skipper Asghar Afghan hit a combative 67 off 56 balls as Afghanistan scored a fighting 257 for six. (SCORECARD)
Shahidi needed a boundary off the last ball to complete his century but Hasan Ali denied him the milestone with a incoming yorker which the left-hander could not put away.
With his skipper Asghar, Shahidi shared a match-changing 94-run stand for the fourth wicket.
Shahidi shifted gears with ease after largely remaining patient in his unbeaten and career-best knock which came off 118 balls. He was bowled off a no ball when he was on 76 in the penultimate over.
Five of his seven boundaries came during the last 14 balls of the Afghan innings.
Asghar had joined left-handed Shahidi at the crease after left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz (3/57) removed the top three Afghan batsmen -- Mohammad Shahzad (20), Ihsanullah (10) and Rahmat Shah (36).
In his 67-run knock, Asghar showed both aggression and patience and Shahidi was determined, holding one end tight.
Asghar chose right deliveries to go for big shots, hitting five sixes and two fours.
Shahidi and Asghar were tested by the Pakistan pace duo of Hasan Ali and Usman Khan but they refused to be intimidated by the raw pace.
They were sensible in defending and leaving the balls which moved after pitching outside off stump. They kept the scoreboard ticking with pushing and nudging the ball around.
Breakthrough not coming, Pakistan captain Sarfraz handed the ball back to Nawaz but Asghar creamed off 11 runs from his over, hitting a four and six, to end the long boundary drought.
Both the batsmen completed their half-centuries in the 40th over, bowled by young left-arm pacer Shaheen Afridi.
With few overs left, Asghar started hitting each everything thrown at him and was bowled by Afridi after being dropped by Haris Sohail in the 42nd over.
(With PTI inputs)