DHAKA – Umar Akmal hit a fighting unbeaten century to lift defending champions Pakistan to 248-8 in their crucial Asia Cup match against a disciplined Afghanistan in Dhaka on Thursday.

The 23-year-old right-hander led the recovery with a 89-ball 102, hitting a six off the penultimate delivery to complete his second one-day hundred.

In all he hit seven boundaries and three sixes, helping Pakistan to put on 59 runs in the last five overs.

Akmal led the fightback through a 60-run seventh wicket stand with Anwar Ali (21) to lift Pakistan from a precarious 117-6 in the 30th over.

Mirwais Ashraf (2-29), Dawlat Zadran (2-73) and Samiullah Shinwari (2-34) had jolted the batting after Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi won the toss and opted to bowl on a slow Fatullah stadium pitch.

Pakistan began fluently with a stand of 55 between Ahmed Shehzad (50), who hit seven boundaries in his 74-ball innings, and Sharjeel Khan (25).

But once spinner Hamza Hotak (1-22) had provided the breakthrough by dismissing Khan, Afghanistan grabbed six wickets in the space of 62 runs.

Mohammad Hafeez fell for ten, Misbah-ul Haq was run out for nought without facing a ball, Sohaib Maqsood went for 13 and Shahid Afridi for six.

Misbah, the world's highest run scorer in one-day cricket last year, was the dismissal which jolted Pakistan badly.

But Akmal held the innings together to ensure Pakistan reached a respectable total in a game they must win, after losing their first match to Sri Lanka by 12 runs on Tuesday.

India beat Bangladesh by six wickets in the tournament's second match on Wednesday. – Sapa-AFP