Afghanistan beats Pakistan for first time in T20 cricket

Afghanistan edge out an inexperienced Pakistan side in Sharjah series opener.

Afghanistan's Rashid Khan bats during the T20 World Cup cricket match between Australia and Afghanistan in Adelaide, Australia, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/James Elsby)
Afghanistan's Rashid Khan bats during a T20 World Cup cricket in Australia in 2022 [File: James Elsby/AP]

Afghanistan beat Pakistan by six wickets in the series opener on Friday, the Afghan side’s first T20 win over its neighbours.

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) after opting to bat first.

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 without scoring 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 were 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.

Unorthodox spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman took 2-9 and Fazalhaq Farooqi 2-13.

In reply, 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.

Former captain 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 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.

“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.”

Pakistan’s fast-bowling debutant Ihsanullah got two wickets in his first over with short-pitched deliveries.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies