Pakistan secured a much-needed victory against Afghanistan in the T20I series, avoiding a potential third consecutive whitewash. Their improved batting performance and clinical bowling display resulted in a comfortable 66-run win. Despite winning the toss, Afghanistan struggled to keep up with Pakistan’s target of 182, ultimately collapsing to 116 all out. Pakistan faced early difficulties as Mujeeb-ur Rehman and Mohammad Nabi took out Mohammad Haris and Tayyab Tahir.
Pakistan beat Afghanistan by 66 runs
However, Saim Ayub and Abdullah Shafique led a counterattacking partnership, which set the momentum for Pakistan. Saim’s innings, which ended just shy of a half-century, anchored Pakistan’s innings, encouraging them to continue their aggressive approach. This crucial partnership, which lasted for 20 balls and yielded 35 runs, became the foundation of Pakistan’s innings.
Pakistan’s Iftikhar Ahmed and Shadab Khan launched a blistering attack on Afghanistan’s bowling line-up, causing them to lose their discipline. As a result, Pakistan scored an impressive 74 runs in the final seven overs, easily surpassing the highest total of the series. Afghanistan’s hopes of a successful chase depended heavily on Rahmanullah Gurbaz’s quick start, but Imad Wasim, Zaman Khan, and Ihsanullah prevented this from happening.
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Despite a brief stand between Mohammad Nabi and Usman Ghani, resistance was rare, and once Ihsanullah returned, any hopes for an Afghan victory were dashed. A well-executed bouncer left Najibullah Zadran bleeding and retired hurt, and Karim Janat was dismissed on the first ball. Shadab’s double strike, which included his 100th T20I wicket, ended any chances of an Afghan comeback. Debutant Sediqullah Atal contributed an underwhelming 19-ball 11 before limping off the field.
Saim, Shafique take Afghanistan on
After Pakistan lost two early wickets, Afghanistan seemed set to repeat their previous performances of stifling their inexperienced batting line-up. However, Saim and Shafique chose to attack rather than play cautiously. Saim set the tone by hitting Mujeeb over the on-side, while Shafique took on Fareed Ahmed in the final Powerplay over, resulting in Pakistan’s highest six-over score of the series at 52.
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Nabi also fell victim to Shafique’s aggressive approach, even after the Powerplay ended. Although Rashid Khan dismissed him in the following over, the brief period of play had shifted the momentum in Pakistan’s favor. Saim even managed to spoil Rashid’s unbeaten 17.5 over a boundary-less stint by hitting a full toss over cow corner. Saim’s and Shafique’s belligerence had thwarted Afghanistan’s stifling tactics, setting Pakistan up for a commanding position in the match.
Shadab Khan’s golden day out
Shadab’s captaincy during the weekend’s Pakistan-Afghanistan series had been questionable, with some decisions drawing considerable criticism. His decision to bat first in the second game, after Afghanistan’s easy chase in the first, was particularly criticized. Furthermore, his post-match remarks about missing Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan couldn’t have boosted the morale of their young replacements in the top order.
However, Shadab’s performance on Monday reminded everyone of what a phenomenal cricketer he is. He smashed a valuable 17-ball 28 in the death overs, taking Pakistan well above par on the surface and carrying the momentum with them at the changeover. Shadab was equally impressive with the ball, striking crucial blows at different stages of the innings.
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He beat Ibrahim Zadran in the flight in his first over before taking a double-strike in his third over, dismissing Ghani and Mujeeb and reaching his 100th and 101st T20I wickets. His figures of 4-0-13-3 were a testament to his exceptional performance. Despite Shadab’s questionable captaincy, his exceptional performance highlighted his skills as a phenomenal cricketer.
Ihsanullah brings the heat
“A fearsome Ihsanullah produced another masterclass, delivering an unforgettable 11th over that showcased his tremendous abilities with the ball. His high pace in the high 140s kph and Afghanistan’s increasing asking rate put pressure on the batters. In the over, he orchestrated a suicidal run-out of Mohammad Nabi and followed it up with a devilish delivery that hit Najibullah Zadran on his unprotected jawline, forcing him to retire hurt and seek a concussion substitute.
But Ihsanullah didn’t let up, delivering a brutish delivery to Karim Janat, who spliced it to Haris for an easy catch. He then unleashed a ferocious 145kph bouncer that Rashid Khan barely avoided. Ihsanullah wasn’t concerned with run-scoring, focusing instead on self-preservation and showcasing his remarkable skills with the ball.”