A run-a-ball 38 not out by Mohammad Nabi after a brilliant display by their bowlers helped Afghanistan beat Pakistan by six wickets in the first of the three T20I matches here.
It’s been over 11 years since the two teams first played each other and Rashid Khan’s side has finally managed to win their first international match against Pakistan, playing without many regulars including skipper Babar Azam, here on Friday night.
Nabi figured in an unfinished 53-run partnership with Najibullah Zadran (17 not out) as they rescued Afghanistan from a precarious position to take them to 98/4 in 17.5 overs after the bowlers showed their class to restrict the new-look Pakistan side to 92/9 in their 20 overs.
It was a clinical performance by Afghanistan from start to finish as they put on a great display despite losing the toss and being asked to bowl first.
Pakistan’s innings never picked up any momentum as they kept losing wickets at regular intervals thanks to some disciplined bowling by Afghanistan, who are hosting the series in Sharjan, UAE.
Fazalhaq Farooqi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Nabi picked up two wickets each and gave away only 34 runs in the 11 overs between them. Spin dominated throughout the first innings as Rashid Khan joined the party and kept the scoring under control.
Although the target did not seem too challenging, the Pakistan bowlers were not going down without a fight.
Afghanistan’s chase seemed to have derailed as they looked in trouble at 45/4. But the returning Nabi continued his excellence and showed his class, building an unbeaten partnership with Najibullah Zadran to guide Afghanistan home comfortably with more than two overs to spare.
Pakistan will hope to bounce back from this loss in the second T20I on March 27, while Afghanistan sit on the cusp of sealing a historic series win.
Pakistan 92/9 in 20 overs (Imad Wasim 18; Mujeeb Ur Rahman 2-9, Mohammad Nabi 2-12, Fazalhaq Farooqi 2-13) lost to Afghanistan 98/4 in 17.5 overs (Mohammad Nabi 38 not out, Najibullah Zadran 17 not out; Ihsanullah 2-17) by 6 wickets.