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Shadab leads Pakistan to consolation T20I victory, Afghanistan wins series

SHARJAH: In the third and final Twenty20 international, Pakistan won by a score of 66 runs thanks to a strong all-around effort from stand-in skipper Shadab Khan, but Afghanistan won the series 2-1.

Pakistan’s revamped team made a solid 182-7 in 20 overs after losing the first two games by margins of six and seven wickets, then held Afghanistan to 116 in 18.4 overs.

After scoring 92-9 and 130-6 in their first two matches, Pakistan’s batting performance improved as it scored 182-7 under the direction of opener Saim Ayub.

Then, in his 87th game, Shadab claimed 3-13 to become the first Pakistani and seventh bowler overall to reach 100 T20I wickets.

The aggressive pacer Ihsanullah dismissed Rahmanullah Gurbaz (18) and Karim Janat (naught) before striking Najibullah Zadran in the jaw with a crisp bouncer, putting Afghanistan out of the running for the challenging goal.

Najibullah was stable but could not resume his innings. Azmatullah Omarzai, who replaced Najibullah due to a concussion, top-scored with a 20-ball 21 that included six and two boundaries.

Ihsanullah had a final score of 3-29.

Usman Ghani scored 15 before being Shadab’s 100th T20I wicket and Mohammad Nabi was run out for 17 after making 16 from Rashid Khan and 16.

Tim Southee of New Zealand is now leading the T20I wicket takers with 134, followed by Shakib Al Hasan of Bangladesh (131), Rashid of Afghanistan (129), Ish Sodhi of New Zealand (114), Lasith Malinga of Sri Lanka (107), and Mustafizur Rahman of Bangladesh (100).

Pakistan might find solace in the fact that they tested the depth of their bench by resting regular captain Babar Azam as well as Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Shaheen Shah Afridi, and Haris Rauf despite losing the series.

Ayub had earlier scored a solid 40-ball 49 with two sixes and four boundaries, while Iftikhar Ahmed had 31 from 25 balls with two sixes.

Shadab (28 runs) and Abdullah Shafique (23) were the other main scorers.

For Afghanistan spinner, Mujeeb Ur Rahman was the pick of the bowlers with 2-28.

Afghanistan won the first match by six wickets and the second by seven, also in Sharjah.

The series was organized to replace three One-Day International (ODI) matches that Afghanistan was scheduled to play against Australia this month in the United Arab Emirates.

But Cricket Australia abandoned the series in protest of Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban putting a ban on women’s education and cricket in their country.

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