Afghanistan beats Pakistan for first time in T20I cricket series
Afghanistan and Pakistan had met seven times in total with Pakistan always coming out on top – until the match on Friday.
Afghanistan has defeated Pakistan in a T20 International (T20I) – marking the Afghan side’s first win in four T20Is against Pakistan.
The cricket teams have met seven times in all, playing three previous T20Is and four one-day international matches in their rivalry, with Pakistan always coming out on top, Al Jazeera’s Abid Hussain wrote.
Pakistan, without five rested front-line players including captain Babar Azam, struggled on a slow and low pitch at Sharjah Cricket Stadium in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) against the Afghans, whose six bowlers shared all nine wickets.
Afghanistan overcame falling to 45-4 in the 10th over to cruise home at 98-4 and win by six wickets with more than two overs to spare.
Mohammad Nabi raised Afghanistan’s first victory over Pakistan in what were five attempts over the past decade with a straight six over long off.
“Pleasure to win, as we’ve always lost against them by small margins,” Afghanistan skipper Rashid Khan said.
“Wearing Afghanistan colours and leading the team in a win is a proud achievement. We never know the wicket . . . (but the) mindset was . . . to adjust accordingly.”
Afghanistan has a chance at a first-series win in the remaining two T20s on Sunday and Monday.
The historic win was celebrated on social media by Afghan cricket fans.
It was a historic moment for #Afghanistan cricket. Congratulations once again on their first #T20I win against Pakistan @MohammadNabi007 ‘s performance and @rashidkhan_19 captaincy were truly exceptional. #AFGvPAK2023 @ICC @ACBofficials https://t.co/karJkmX7r4
— Shahzad Aryobee (@sharyobee) March 25, 2023
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.
But none of the Pakistan batters could accelerate on a two-paced pitch and mostly fell to soft dismissals.
In the absence of formidable openers Azam and Rizwan, replacements Ayub and Mohammad Haris couldn’t gauge the low bounce and fell within the batting power play while attempting extravagant shots.
Abdullah Shafique was pinned by Azmatullah Omarzai for 0 and Tayyab Tahir, one of four making their Pakistan debut, lobbed a return catch to Rashid Khan. When Azam Khan was also out for a duck on debut, Pakistan was 41-5 in the eighth over.
Pakistan was in danger of its lowest T20I total of 74 in 2012 against Australia at Dubai but Imad Wasim top-scored with 18.
“Sometimes this can happen due to youngsters being nervous but they need to be given chances,” Pakistan’s interim captain Shadab Khan said.
“As professionals, we can’t give excuses regarding conditions, we have to learn from the loss here.”
Unorthodox spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman took 2-9 and Fazalhaq Farooqi 2-13.
Pakistan’s fast-bowling debutant Ihsanullah got two wickets in his first over with short-pitched deliveries.
Afghanistan was soon four down but Nabi, 38 not out, and Najibullah Zadran, 17 not out, got them over the finish line.
Ihsanullah finished with 2-17.