SHARJAH - Afghanistan secured a historic win over Pakistan during the first Twenty20 International of the three-match series in Sharjah on Friday. Chasing a modest target of 93 runs, Afghanistan reached home safely in 17.5 overs for the loss of four wickets. This was the first victory for Afghanistan over Pakistan in international cricket. Afghanistan started well with openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz (16) and Ibrahim Zardan (9) providing a good start to their side. Ihsanullah provided the first breakthrough to Pakistan when he took the scalp of Ibrahim Zardan and then he sent packing Gulabdin Naib (0). Naseem Shah got the wicket of Gurbaz while Imad Wasim bowled Karim Jannat (7) but M Nabi (38*) and Najibullah (17*) played responsible knocks and comfortably chased the target in 17.5 overs. Earlier, Pakistan had set Afghanistan a paltry target of 93 runs after skipper Shadab Khan won the toss and decided to bat first. After a brilliant bowling display by Afghanistan, Pakistan were restricted to 92-9 in 20 overs.
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This was Pakistan’s lowest total after batting full 20 overs in T20Is. Previous was 96-9 vs Australia in 2014. Imad Wasim top-scored with 18 runs in 32 balls, whereas Saim Ayub and Tayyab Tahir scored 17 and 16 runs, respectively. Fazalhaq Farooqi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi claimed two wickets each. It must be noted that opener Saim Ayub, middle-order batter Tayyab Tahir and right-arm quicks Zaman Khan and Ihsanullah are making their Pakistan debuts. Meanwhile, top-order batter Abdullah Shafique, allrounders Faheem Ashraf and Imad Wasim, and Azam Khan marked their returns to the Pakistan side. Shadab is leading the side in the absence of Babar Azam, who has been rested for the series. The Afghanistan T20Is are Pakistan’s first since their T20 World Cup campaign in Australia last year, where they were the runners-up. Afghanistan’s Rahmanullah Gurbaz said: “Exciting moment for us, happy to finally beat Pakistan. Pitch was not easy, we just watched the ball and play naturally. Nabi’s experience and our bowling was amazing. Najib also played well. The win will give us momentum and increase our confidence. Beating Pakistan gives us an indication that we are improving and hopefully that continues.”
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