In the third and final Twenty20 international in Sharjah, stand-in skipper Shadab Khan’s all-round performance led Pakistan to a consolation 66-run victory, despite Afghanistan winning the series 2-1.
After posting below-par scores in the first two matches, Pakistan’s new-look side managed a strong 182-7 in 20 overs, with opener Saim Ayub leading the improved batting display.
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Shadab became the first Pakistani and seventh overall bowler to claim 100 T20I wickets in his 87th match, taking 3-13. Afghanistan struggled to chase the challenging target, with Ihsanullah dismissing Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Karim Janat and leaving Najibullah Zadran’s chin bleeding from a sharp bouncer. Azmatullah Omarzai, concussion substitute for Najibullah, top-scored with 21 off 20 balls. Ihsanullah finished with 3-29.
Despite the series loss, Pakistan can take solace in the fact that they tested their bench strength by resting key players.
Shadab said the series’ main objective was to give young players a chance and build their confidence for the long run.
Rashid Khan, on the other hand, described the series win as memorable and said that any series following this would be good preparation for the 50-over World Cup in India later this year.
Earlier in the match, Ayub scored a 40-ball 49, and Iftikhar Ahmed added 31 off 25 balls. Shadab contributed 28 runs, and Abdullah Shafique scored 23. For Afghanistan, spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman was the standout bowler with 2-28.
Pakistan is scheduled to play 5 T20s and 5 ODI matches against New Zealand starting from April 13.