Afghanistan grab historic win against Pakistan in T20i

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Afghanistan defeated Pakistan in a Twenty20 for the first time on Friday after the latter was restricted to 92-9.

Pakistan, without five rested frontline players including captain Babar Azam, struggled on a slow and low pitch at Sharjah Cricket Stadium 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 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 colors 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.

None of the Pakistan batters could accelerate on a two-paced pitch and mostly fell to soft dismissals.

In the absence of formidable openers Babar and Mohammad Rizwan, replacements Saim Ayub and Mohammad Haris couldn’t gauge the low bounce and fell within the batting powerplay 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 T20 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,” 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 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.

Result: Afghanistan won by six wickets
Player of the match: Muhammad Nabi (Afghanistan)
Next match: Tomorrow (Sunday)

By Saif R Siddiqui

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