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Nabi leads Afghanistan to stunning T20 victory over Pakistan

SHARJAH: Afghanistan defeated a resurgent Pakistan by six wickets in the first Twenty20 international of a three-match series on Friday.

Nabi took 2-12 and was well supported by Mujeeb Ur Rahman (2-9) and pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi (2-13) in limiting Pakistan to 92-9 after they won the toss and batted at Sharjah Stadium.

Nabi then maintained his composure with a cautious run-a-ball 38 not out, adding 53 for the unbroken fifth wicket with Najibullah Zadran (17 not out) to help Afghanistan reach the target in 17.5 overs.

Nabi hit his first boundary off the 27th ball of the innings, then two more in the next over from Naseem Shah before sealing the victory with a six off Ihsanullah.

This is Afghanistan’s first victory over Pakistan in four Twenty20 internationals.

Ihsanullah (2-17), a pace bowler, dismissed Ibrahim Zadran (nine) with the first ball of his T20I career and then had Gulbadin Naib (naught) to leave Afghanistan reeling at 45-4, but Nabi and Najibullah ensured victory.

With five key players rested for the series (captain Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Shaheen Shah Afridi, and Haris Rauf), Pakistan gave T20I debuts to Saim Ayub, Tayyab Tahir, Ihsanullah, and Zaman Khan.

On a low and slow Sharjah Stadium pitch that aided Afghanistan’s three-pronged spin attack, Pakistan was 41-5 in the eighth over.

Imad Wasim led the way with 18, followed by Ayub (17), Tahir (16), and skipper Shadab Khan (12).

Wasim attempted to save the innings with 32-ball innings that contained no boundaries, but Ayub, famed for his power hitting, scored two boundaries and a six in his 15-ball innings.

The highest partnership of the innings, a 19-run partnership between Wasim and captain Shadab Khan (12), came for the sixth wicket.

Azam Khan, a recalled power batter, and Abdullah Shafique were held scoreless.

Other low T20I scores for Pakistan are 74 against Australia in Dubai in 2012, 82 against the West Indies in Dhaka in 2014, 83 against India in Dhaka in 2016, and 89 against England in Cardiff in 2010.

The remaining games in this first bilateral series between the two nations will also be played in Sharjah on Sunday and Monday.

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