T20 World Cup 2021: Babar Azam says he was confident that Asif Ali would deliver when needed

Asif Ali | Getty

Following Pakistan’s win in ICC T20 World Cup 2021 clash against Afghanistan on Friday (October 29), skipper Babar Azam said that he was confident that Asif Ali would deliver when needed.

Pakistan is inching closer to the place in the semi-final. The Babar Azam-led side after thumping India and New Zealand defeated Afghanistan by 5 wickets to clinch their third consecutive win of the T20 World Cup 2021.

Bowling first, Pakistan was on the top of their game as they jolted Afghanistan with early blows and left them tumbling at 64/5. However, the onslaught by Mohammad Nabi (35*) and Gulbadin Naib (35*) at the back end helped them to post a target of 148 runs on the board.

Chasing the target, even though Pakistan lost Mohammad Rizwan early, they had a decent start and it almost seemed they would win the match easily but the introduction of Rashid Khan into the attack put the Babar Azam-led side on the back foot.

The leg-spinner changed the momentum towards his side and removed Mohammad Hafeez along with well-set Babar Azam at the end to put Pakistan in all sorts of trouble.

With 24 runs needed from 12 balls, it almost seemed that Afghanistan would register their second win of the tournament but Asif Ali, who came in to bat at No.6, smashed four sixes in the penultimate over to take his side home with one over to spare.

The right-handed batter played a cameo of unbeaten 25 in 7 balls and helped his team register their third consecutive win of the tournament. He was also awarded Player of the Match for his heroics.

Skipper Babar Azam admitted that even though everything went according to the plan for them, they conceded 10-15 runs extra. He lauded Asif Ali for his heroics, saying that even before the tournament he was confident that the right-handed batter would deliver when needed.

“We started well with the ball, got a lot of wickets like we planned. Maybe gave away 10-15 runs too many at the end. With the bat, we couldn’t capitalise the powerplay as we wanted to. 

“At the end, with Malik and Asif Ali we knew they could do the job. He (Asif Ali) is known for this and I was confident pre-tournament itself that he would deliver when needed,” Babar Azam said at the post-match presentation.

Babar Azam said that they planned their strategies well with the ball and used the boundary dimensions well. He expressed his disappointment for not finishing off the game for his side and gave credit to Asif Ali for Pakistan’s win.

“We planned our strategies well with the ball, and also ensured that he kept the uneven boundary dimensions in mind while bowling. 

“Spinners were getting some grip from the track, Afghanistan has quality bowlers too and I was trying to take it as deep as possible. Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish things off but credit to Asif Ali,” he said.

Pakistan will next take on Namibia on 2nd November while Afghanistan will face the same opponents on 31st October.