Afghanistan put in a much improved batting performance in the third match of their series against Pakistan A, but it wasn't enough to gain a consolation win, and they go back home with a 3-0 series defeat.
The change in their batting performance is evident when taking a look at the scorecard of their innings. Instead of hitting out from the start of their innings, as in the first two matches, they adopted a much more steady approach, opting to accumulate runs before hitting out at the end.
The backbone of the early part of their innings was Noor Ali Zadran, who scored a patient 51. He shared a second wicket partnership of 51 with Mirwais Ashraf, who scored 31, and was eventually out in the 26th over with the score on 123-4.
When Asghar Stanikzai was out in the 42nd over with the score on 187-6, that was the prompt for Afghanistan to put the foot on the accelerator. Mohammed Nabi hit three sixes in a 24 ball 29, whilst Karim Sadiq made up for a run of bad form by smashing 42 from just 26 balls.
Karim helped take the total to 274-9 from Afghanistan's fifty overs. Yasir Shah was the pick of the bowlers with 3-29.
In reply, Pakistan A were scoring quickly, but also losing wickets quickly, and were on 120-5 in the 22nd over. Sarfraz Ahmed and captain Sohail Tanvir then put on a sixth wicket partnership of 63 before Tanvir was out for 31. Afghanistan were clearly missing the incisive bowling of Hamid Hassan as they struggled to break the partnership.
Another big partnership for the seventh wicket, 95 between Sarfraz Ahmed and Saad Nasim, both of whom scored fifties, was the end for Afghanistan as that pair took the home side past the target with 11 balls to spare.
It's been a learning experience for Afghanistan, and they now hope to persuade Pakistan A to return the trip and play a match in Jalalabad. Before then, Afghanistan will set out on their defence of the Intercontinental Cup, their first scheduled match being in Canada at some point in June/July.
Pakistan A beat Afghanistan by 4 wickets
Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad, 29 May
Afghanistan 274-9 (50 overs, Noor Ali Zadran 51, Karim Sadiq 42*, Yasir Shah 3-29)
Pakistan A 278-6 (48.1 overs, Sarfraz Ahmed 61*, Saad Nasim 50*, Sharjeel Khan 44)