It was a nail-biting finish at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, as Afghanistan snatched victory from Pakistan in the second T20 international match. Afghanistan overcame late nerves to take the win by seven wickets and claim an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-game series.
Pakistan set a target of 131 runs, which Afghanistan looked to be struggling with as they headed into the final overs needing 30 runs off the last three overs. The pressure was on, but Najibullah Zadran and Mohammad Nabi kept their cool, hitting a six each off pace bowler Naseem Shah in the penultimate over to reduce the target to just five runs.
Zadran then hit the winning boundary off Zaman Khan’s last over to seal the deal with just one ball to spare. It was a tense moment, but the Afghan players and their supporters erupted in celebration.
Afghanistan skipper Rashid Khan was proud of his team’s effort, saying: “It’s a great honor and pleasure to lead this wonderful team. It was a great effort with the ball, and then we took it deep and finished it.” He added: “Our strategy was to go out there and make sure you take responsibility. We have players to finish it like Nabi and Najib.”
Pakistan’s 130/6 in 20 overs was built around a sedate 57-ball 64 not out by all-rounder Imad Wasim – his maiden T20I half-century. However, it wasn’t enough to overcome Afghanistan’s resilience.
This was Afghanistan’s first bilateral T20I series against any of the top six teams, and they showed that they are a force to be reckoned with. They have previously won a T20I series each against the West Indies and Bangladesh and five in five against Zimbabwe.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran set the platform for Afghanistan with a 56-run second-wicket stand. However, their slow batting left Afghanistan needing to score 46 off the last 30 balls. Najibullah and Nabi remained unbeaten to seal the victory.
Pakistan captain Shadab Khan praised his team’s effort, saying: “Our motive for this series was to check out talented young players and we have to back them in the future.” Pakistan had a disastrous start, with left-arm pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi claiming two wickets in the first over of the innings. However, Imad’s heroics helped them to a respectable total.
It was a thrilling match that kept fans on the edge of their seats until the very end. Afghanistan’s victory was well deserved, and they have cemented their place as a team to watch in T20I cricket.