By: India Weekly Staff
Veteran all-rounder Mohammad Nabi guided Afghanistan to a six-wicket win over a new-look Pakistan in the first Twenty20 international of a three-game series on Friday (24).
Nabi took 2-12 and was ably assisted by Mujeeb Ur Rahman (2-9) and pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi (2-13) to restrict Pakistan to 92-9 after they won the toss and batted at Sharjah Stadium.
Nabi then kept his cool with a cautious run-a-ball 38 not out and added 53 for the unbroken fifth wicket with Najibullah Zadran (17 not out) to help Afghanistan overhaul the target in 17.5 overs.
Nabi hit his first boundary off his 27th ball and then hit two more in the next over from Naseem Shah before sealing the win with a six off Ihsanullah.
This becomes Afghanistan’s first win in four Twenty20 internationals against Pakistan.
Pace bowler Ihsanullah (2-17) dismissed Ibrahim Zadran (nine) with the first ball of his T20I career and then had Gulbadin Naib (nought) to leave Afghanistan tottering at 45-4 but Nabi and Najibullah made sure victory was achieved.
“It was a tough score to chase in these conditions,” said Nabi after being named man of the match.
“As a bowling unit, we wanted to keep them under 100 and that’s what we did.
“With the bat, I wanted to take responsibility and close the game. Most of the guys in our squad are playing big leagues, some have been here in the UAE for 15 days. So we were set. Thirty eight on this wicket can feel like a hundred.”
Stand-in Pakistan skipper Shadab Khan confessed his new players were nervous.
“Tactics wise, we were fine,” said Shadab. “But sometimes this can happen due to youngsters being nervous. They need to be given chances, they will get better.”
With five key players — skipper Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf rested for the series — Pakistan handed T20I debuts to Saim Ayub, Tayyab Tahir, Ihsanullah and Zaman Khan.
Pakistan were 41-5 in the eighth over on a low and slow Sharjah Stadium pitch that gave assistance to Afghanistan’s three-pronged spin attack.
Imad Wasim top-scored with 18 while Ayub (17), Tahir (16) and skipper Shadab (12) were the other main run-getters.
Ayub, known for his power hitting, smashed two boundaries and a six in his 15-ball knock while Wasim’s 32-ball innings did not feature a single boundary as he tried to rescue the innings.
Wasim and skipper Shadab Khan (12) added 19 for the sixth wicket, the highest partnership of the innings.
Recalled power hitter Azam Khan and Abdullah Shafique failed to score.
Pakistan’s other lowest T20I totals are 74 vs Australia in Dubai 2012, 82 vs West Indies in Dhaka 2014, 83 vs India in Dhaka 2016 and 89 vs England in Cardiff in 2010.
This is the first bilateral series between the two countries with the remaining matches also in Sharjah on Sunday and Monday.