Afghanistan wins landmark cricket series against Pakistan

Afghanistan beat Pakistan by seven wickets in second Twenty20 international and take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-game series.

Afghanistan cricket fans
It is the first time Afghanistan has won a series against a top-six-ranked ICC team [File: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters]

Afghanistan has displayed another impressive run-chase to beat new-look Pakistan by seven wickets in the second Twenty20 international (T20I) with one ball remaining and take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

Sunday’s win at Sharjah Cricket Stadium in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the first time Afghanistan has won a series against a top-six-ranked ICC team.

Pakistan chose to bat first but its inexperienced top-order again disappointed before recalled Imad Wasim smashed 64 not out off 57 balls and captain Shadab Khan made 32 to increase the final total to 130-6.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz (44) and Ibrahim Zadran (38) led Afghanistan’s chase before Najibullah Zadran scored a rapid unbeaten 23 and Mohammad Nabi was 14 not out to guide their team to 133-3 with a ball to spare.

“It’s a great honour and pleasure to lead this wonderful team,” Afghanistan captain Rashid Khan said. “Great effort with the ball, and then we took it deep and finished it … We have players to finish it like Nabi and Najib.”

Needing 22 off the last two overs, Najibullah and Nabi struck a six each in Naseem Shah’s penultimate over which went for 17 and effectively ended Pakistan’s hopes.

Afghanistan recorded a memorable six-wicket win against Pakistan on Friday after pinning down Shadab’s team to 92-9.

In the absence of five rested front-line players, including Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, Pakistan continued to struggle against the pace and spin of Afghanistan on Sharjah’s slow wickets.

Saim Ayub, who made his T20 debut in the first game, edged behind the second ball of the game from Fazalhaq Farooqi (2-19). Abdullah Shafique became the first men’s batter in T20 history to record a fourth straight duck when he was trapped leg-before wicket by Farooqi in his first double-wicket maiden over, leaving Pakistan at 0-2.

Mohammad Haris (15) and Tayyab Tahir (13) also couldn’t gauge the wicket well upfront. Azam Khan (1) was baffled by Rashid’s sharp googly and was out lbw as Pakistan slipped to 63-5 in 11 overs.

Imad and Shadab then combined in a 67-run stand with Imad hitting two sixes and three fours before Shadab was run out off the last ball while going for a second run.

Gurbaz made a powerful start for Afghanistan when he smashed Naseem (0-39) for a six and a boundary in the first over and took the game deep by adding 56 runs with Ibrahim. Gurbaz was run out when his reverse lap shot went straight to Naseem at short third man and Ibrahim declined a sharp single.

Fast bowler Ihsanullah (1-23) had Ibrahim caught behind in the 18th over but Najibullah and Nabi sealed the game with their belligerent hitting against Naseem in the penultimate over.

“We were struggling again,” Shadab said. “When you lose three wickets in powerplay, you lose 70 percent of the games … The young players were nervous. They are playing for the first time for Pakistan, but we have to back them.”

The third T20 match between the two teams will be played later on Monday.

Source: News Agencies