SHARJAH: 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.
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.
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 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 Khan (12) were the other main run-getters.
Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2023
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