By: Kimberly Rodrigues
On Sunday (26), Afghanistan secured a 2-0 lead in the three-game Twenty20 international series against Pakistan, after overcoming late nerves in the closing overs to win by seven wickets.
Despite requiring 30 runs from the last three overs, and 22 runs from the last two overs, Najibullah Zadran and Mohammad Nabi remained composed and hit a six each off pace bowler Naseem Shah in the penultimate over. This reduced the target to just five runs.
In the final over, Zadran hit the winning boundary off Zaman Khan’s delivery, allowing Afghanistan to chase down the 131-run target with a ball to spare.
“It’s a great honour and pleasure to lead this wonderful team,” said Afghanistan skipper Rashid Khan.
“It was a great effort with the ball, and then we took it deep and finished it.”
He added, “I think 130 was a good total. We tried our best to take it deep and finish it. Our strategy was to go out there and make sure you take responsibility. We have players to finish it like Nabi and Najib.”
All-rounder Imad Wasim’s maiden T20I half-century, a 57-ball 64 not out, formed the backbone of Pakistan’s 130-6 in 20 overs.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s recent victory against Pakistan marked their first-ever bilateral T20I series against one of the top six teams in the world, which includes India, England, Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia.
Prior to this win, Afghanistan had claimed T20I series victories over the West Indies and Bangladesh, as well as a perfect record of five wins from five matches against Zimbabwe.
Afghanistan’s Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran laid a solid foundation with their 56-run second wicket partnership, with Gurbaz scoring 44 runs off 49 balls and Zadran contributing 38 runs off 40 balls.
Nonetheless, their sluggish approach at the crease meant that Afghanistan required 46 runs from the final 30 balls. In the end, Najibullah and Nabi held their nerve, remaining unbeaten and contributing 23 and 14 runs respectively to secure the win.
(With inputs from AFP)