Afghanistan Stun Pakistan To Win The First T20I By Six Wickets
AFG vs PAK (Source: Twitter/ACB)
Mohammad Nabi once again proved why he is one of the most sought T20 players in the world as his all-round brilliance helped Afghanistan script history by beating Pakistan for the first time in the international arena. This was Afghanistan's fourth attempt. In the opening T20I in Sharjah, Afghanistan won by six wickets to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Pakistan suffers horrific batting collapse
Shadab Khan won the toss and elected to bat first in the first T20 match against Afghanistan in Sharjah. However, the decision backfired on the visiting team as Afghanistan's seamers were excellent with the new ball and got it moving in both directions.
New to international cricket, the young opening pair of Mohammad Haris and Saim Ayub looked flummoxed against the swinging ball. They could only add 17 runs to the total in the first three overs before Fazalhaq Farooqi dismissed the former on six. Three balls later, Pakistan's number three Abdullah Shafique was sent back to the pavilion by Azmatullah Omarzai for a two-ball duck to reduce Pakistan to 22/2.
Pakistan could never really recover from the early jolts and kept losing wickets on a consistent basis. On debut, Saim Ayub played some delightful strokes to showcase his talent. However his stay at the crease was cut short by Naveen-ul-Haq, who castled him on the last delivery of the first powerplay.
Then came Afghanistan's trump card Rashid Khan who struck in his first ball to dismiss Tayyab Tahir, who scored 16 off 9 balls before throwing away his wicket. Supporting Rashid from the other end was Mujeeb Ur Rahman. The mystery spinner removed the inform Azam Khan in the 8th over.
Skipper Shadab and all-rounder Imad Wasim looked to anchor the innings with a gritty partnership. Mujeeb came back and got the wicket of Shadab to push Pakistan on the back foot. Faheem Ashraf and Naseem Shah were dismissed after scoring 2 runs each, resulting in Pakistan slipping to 71/8 in the 16th over. Imad Wasim, who top-scored with 18 runs off 32 balls, was the ninth and the last wicket to fall. Zaman Khan and Ihsanullah added 12 runs to post a paltry total of 92 runs in 20 overs.
Ice-cool Nabi steers Afghanistan across the finish line
Pakistan needed a miracle to save them from a humiliating defeat against their neighbours. Shadab Khan and Co. needed early wickets to get through the middle and lower order and try to bowl out. With some high-quality bowlers in their ranks, it was never going to be an easy task for Afghanistan.
Unlike Pakistan, the hosts of the three-match series, Afghanistan got off to a steady start as the new opening duo of Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran adopted a cautious approach to a modest run chase on a tricky surface. The pair added 23 runs in four overs. Things were looking comfortable for the Afghans. But then came the twist in the tale.
Ihsanullah, on his debut, was introduced in the second last over of the powerplay. He created an immediate impact when the skiddy pacer got the wicket of Ibrahim Zadran on his first delivery in international cricket. One ball later he got another wicket in form of Gulbadin Naib. In the sixth over of the run-chase, Naseem removed the dangerous-looking Gurbaz for 16 (17). Suddenly, Shadab Khan's team was back in the game with three quick wickets in the powerplay.
Mohammad Nabi, who was recalled for this series after being dropped for the last one, came in and just tried to hold one end and take it deep. The veteran all-rounder ensured that he held one end up and batted with caution and a sense of responsibility. The partnership between him and Karim Janat was growing.
Janat gave away his wicket by playing a needless shot as he was castled by Imad Wasim at a crucial juncture of the match. Afghanistan's T20 specialist Najibullah Zadran walked in and he came in with the intent to power his team to a famous win. Alongside Nabi, the southpaw took calculative risks to ensure that there were no more hiccups. Nabi finished the game in style by smashing a big six over long off.
Pakistan: 92/9 (20)
Imad Wasim 18 (32), Saim Ayub 17 (15);
Mujeeb Ur Rahman 2-9 (4), Mohammad Nabi 2/12 (3)
Afghanistan: 98/4 (17.5 overs)
Mohammad Nabi 38*(38), Najibullah Zadran 17*(23);
Ihsanullah 2/17(3.5), Imad Wasim 1/11(4)
Match Result: Afghanistan won by 6 wickets