Afghanistan recorded their first-ever win in a T20I series over Pakistan, marking an end to a string of losses against one of cricket’s best teams. The team is currently tooting this win as a sign of things to come. Afghanistan’s victory over Pakistan marked their first triumph in over a decade after a strong performance in Sharjah.
Emotionally Significant Win
Raees Ahmadzai is Afghanistan’s current assistant coach and believes this win could breathe life into his team’s performance going forward.
Ahamdzai currently has a two-year stint with the Afghan cricket team and he was available when his players led 2-0 against a determined Pakistani side. The Afghans will eventually reduce Pakistan to 92(9) and 130(6) in the first and second T20I games respectively.
Ahmadzai commented about the significance of this win and told reporters how they can’t wait to get back to celebrate with home fans:
“I can’t explain the significance of this victory in words because it carries a lot of emotions. This is going to give our cricket a new spirit and give us a belief that we can do it and we did it. It became history and we are going to take this trophy back to Kabul giving our people much-needed joy.“
Afghanistan’s skipper, Rashid Khan, also had this to say about their victory:
“Pleasure to win, as we’ve always lost against them by small margins…wearing Afghanistan colors and leading the team in a win is a proud achievement. We never know the wicket . . . (but the) mindset was . . . to adjust accordingly.”
Historic Feat for Afghanistan Cricket
Afghanistan has never managed to beat Pakistan in a full T20I series since its introduction into senior cricket. The victory over Pakistan also marks their third-ever win against an ICC team with Full Member status in a T20I contest. Afghanistan’s first two victories over permanent ICC members in the T20I series came against Zimbabwe and Ireland respectively.
Afghanistan’s assistant coach believes the recent victory over Pakistan is a unique win and one of their most special triumphs. He also believes that the Pakistan team fielded tough performers from the PSL known for taking many wickets and scoring huge runs.
“It is special to win against a top nation… It’s not like we never came close to beating Pakistan before. There were some close games in the past in which Pakistan won but it’s good to pull a series.”
Ahmadzai further commented on his team’s victory to sports journalists:
“This is not just a win for Afghanistan cricket but for cricket … (it) is going to inspire many youngsters who will start picking up the game in Afghanistan… Cricket has been a major source of happiness, people love cricket and this series win brought a lot of smiles. The game is already growing in the country and such wins change the dynamic at the grassroots.“
Did Pakistan Field a Full Squad against Afghanistan in the Series?
Pakistan and Afghanistan have faced off many times in ICC cricket contests with Pakistan taking victories in most matches. But this time, Pakistan decided to field a first-team squad against Afghanistan while leaving out their star players.
Experienced starters like Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Rizwan, and Babar Azam were all left out of the entire T20I series. Afghanistan took advantage of the absence of these star players to inflict a crippling series defeat, racing to a 2-0 victory after two games.
Defining Moments in the Series
The absence of Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam seemed to affect Pakistan’s ability to dominate the opening batting power plays. Replacements Mohammad Haris and Saim Ayub failed to gauge low bounces and crumbled under pressure in attempts to fire fast batting shots.
Abdullah Shafique will also get pinned by Afghanistan’s Azmatullah Omarzai for zero. Pakistan’s fourth substitute starter, Tayyab Tahir, will also come under pressure to return a clear catch to Rashid Khan.
Azam Khan will duck on his debut, leaving Pakistan at 41-5 in the 8th over. Pakistan’s interim skipper, Shadab Khan, attributed the poor performance to inexperienced players, even though he asked for more time for the youngsters to adapt.
As the game progressed, spin-bowler Mujeeb Rahman will take 2-9 and Fazalhaq Farooqi will seize 2-13. It wasn’t all gloomy for Pakistan in the series as debutant player Ilhsanullah was able to get a couple of wickets with short pitches. Afghanistan was down at the tail end of the second match but not out and relied on Nabi (38) and Zadran (17) to claim victory.