Afghanistan was foiled in its bid for a series sweep when Pakistan won their third and last Twenty20 by 66 runs on Monday.
Pakistan finally came good without five rested frontline players to post a challenging 182-7 then bowled out Afghanistan for 116 with 8 balls remaining.
Pakistan interim captain Shadab Khan and young fast bowler Ihsanullah shared six wickets. Shadab, with 3-13, became the first Pakistan men’s player to reach 100 wickets in T20s. Ihsanullah got 3-29 with his pacey short-pitched deliveries.
Shadab provided a late flourish with the bat by smashing a 17-ball 28 after Saim Ayub missed out on his maiden T20 half-century by one run.
Defeat in the dead rubber couldn’t spoil Afghanistan’s history-making effort in winning its first match and series 2-1 against Pakistan in any format.
“It’s a special occasion to be part of this team,” Afghanistan captain Rashid Khan said. “We won the series, but we have some areas to improve on. We responded well under pressure. We have struggled under pressure in the past but I’m happy that we chased in a couple of games.”
Najibullah Zadran retired hurt off the first ball he faced after he was struck on the grille by Ihsanullah. Concussion substitute Azmatullah Omarzai made 21 before he was the last man to be dismissed.
Pakistan made only 92-9 and 130-6 in the first two T20s but adapted well to the conditions.
Left-hander Saim batted fluently against the pace and spin of Rashid Khan, hitting two sixes and four boundaries, while Abdullah Shafique made 23 off 13 balls and finally broke his drought after failing to score in his previous four T20s.
Iftikhar Ahmed, playing his first match in the series, made 31 off 25 balls and together with Shadab accelerated well in the death overs to help Pakistan tally its best total of the series.
“We wanted to finish on a high note and we have done that,” Shadab said. “We needed to play for Pakistan’s pride and we did it. The main motive of this series was to give the youngsters a chance. Hopefully, they will get confidence from these matches and it will help them in the long run.”
Afghanistan struggled to get any momentum in the chase, and lost its last seven wickets for 45 runs.
Result: Pakistan won by 66 runs
Player of the match: Saim Ayub
Player of the series: Muhammad Nabi
By Saif R Siddiqui