If ever there was an example of how a second's indecisiveness could cost you on the cricket field, this was it. Mohammad Nabi's rank long hop should have been dispatched. But Tamim Iqbal, who was slightly off balance as he struck a pull, mistimed it towards mid-on where Asghar Stanikzai, the Afghanistan captain, made a right royal mess of it. He seemed to be confused whether to take the catch with his palms facing the sky or the traditional way of trying to cup the ball inside his bucket hands. As it turned out, he was pressed for time in the end and the ball bobbled out. Tamim, on 1 then, went on to add 117 more.
If the dropped chance was embarrassing, several such moments were in store for Afghanistan. Another instance came in the 28th over when Mirwais Ashraf messed up a regulation stop. He did all the hard work by running around the ropes to stop a powerful cut at deep point, but fell over as he tried to flick the ball back to his partner. In the process, he dived over the ball to concede a boundary. Later, in the penultimate over, Mohammad Shahzad couldn't stop the ball with both his legs as a throw rushed in from deep square leg. It was Mahmudullah who was given a reprieve this time.
The missed hat-trick
Mushfiqur Rahim hasn't quite been able to execute the slog sweeps in this series. In the first two ODIs, he was bowled and trapped lbw respectively. This time, he should have been caught trying to play the stroke. But Afghanistan were in a generous mood. Dawlat Zadran was the culprit this time as he put down a chance at deep square leg. The only hint of solace was that the ball may have been dipping on him, making it much more difficult that it initially appeared.
Tamim Iqbal's inside-out blast over extra cover for six early in his innings was perhaps the best shot he has played this series. As his knock progressed on Saturday, he seemed to be tiring and decided to use the slog as his modus operandi. The move worked beautifully when he biffed legspinner Rahmat Shah for a four and a six over deep midwicket in the 38th over. Anticipating a similar heave, Rahmat pulled his length back off the next delivery, but by then, Tamim was on auto-pilot mode. He moved legside before twirling his wrists to get the ball over the in-field, in the process outfoxing the bowler who asked for an extra fielder for protection on the leg side.