Umar Akmal Saeed Ajmal Pakistan
Umar Akmal is ecstatic after completing his century against Afghanistan, 27 February. Reuters

Dropped on 28, much before he played a blinder, Pakistan's Umar Akmal went on to hit a match-winning score of 102. Afghanistan Captain Mohammad Nabi was happy with the effort his team put in the middle but agreed that dropping Akmal turned the match against them.

"The bowlers bowled brilliantly in the first few overs but Umar Akmal played very well in the end," Nabi said. "His drop was the turning point because he is a top batsman. It was a crucial time. Saeed Ajmal bowled brilliantly [fpr Pakistan] and we did not expect so much turn."

Akmal was more than delighted that luck was on his side. He didn't let the chance go, making the most of the life, and was duly declared the man of the match for his nice knock.

"When the ball was going in the air I was hoping it would get dropped and I would continue my innings," Akmal said. "Hopefully, I will get more opportunities like this and I want to thank my seniors for their support.

"It was a team effort. I only wanted to play till the end and that's what happened. I have learnt a lot from the downs and when I was batting the messages I was getting from the dressing room was to stay till the end. It's one of my best innings."

Struggling at 117 for six, Pakistan seemed like crashing down in a hurry. Had it not been for Akmal, it was doubtful if they would even cross the 200 mark. But, they eventually pulled to a total of 248 and Afghanistan fell short by a considerable margin, making only 176.

"At the start we were hoping to reach somewhere around 200," Pakistan captain Misbah-Ul-Haq admitted, after his side also managed to get a bonus point out of the game. "But then Umar played one of his best innings and led a very good fightback.

"I think at one point the match had almost gone out of our hands. If Umar Akmal hadn't played that innings, we would have had a lot of problems. As a batting unit, I think if we continue to repeat the same mistakes, it will be a big problem for us. We have a very important match against India coming up now, so we have to avoid making these kinds of mistakes. We have to take responsibility, especially as a batting unit.

"The shot selection from the batsmen was disappointing. They did not read the pitch very well and were playing like how it behaved in the first match. They were eyeing the kind of total in the first game, but this was turning and staying low as well. As professionals, they need to read the situation better.

"Afghanistan stuck to the basics and hit the lengths and lines that they planned. They really made it hard to score runs and they're a really good side and their fielding effort was impressive too. Pakistan's bowlers put in a great effort, especially the three spinners. Saeed Ajmal was excellent."