Afghanistan won the toss and decided to bat.
Mohammad Nabi and Gulbadin Naib’s power-packed 71-run stand off just 45 balls took Afghanistan to 147/6 in a Super-12 contest at the ICC T20 World Cup in Dubai on Friday.
Afghanistan won the toss and decided to bat. It was a surprise because Dubai has been favourable to the chasing sides so far. Shaheen Shah Afridi ran in, new ball in hand, with the Pakistan fans grooving and chanting: “Afridi!” His first over, packed with swing, pace and fire, ruffled the openers Hazratullah Zazai and Mohammad Shahzad. There were two ambitious appeals for lbw; Babar Azam reviewed one after Zazai missed a big heave but replays showed the ball missing the leg stump by a big margin.
With two right-handers at the crease, left-arm spinner Imad Wasim came into the attack in the second over. The move paid dividends as Zazai, trying to break free, miscued an attempted big shot over mid-wicket only for the top-edge to be taken smartly by Haris Rauf. Afridi then accounted for Shahzad in the next over as Afghanistan lost both openers for just 13.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Asghar Afghan tried to up the ante in Imad’s second over; two big sixes square on the leg side from each and a boundary past short fine leg fetched them 17 off the fourth over. But Haris wasn’t going to let the momentum shift. In his first over, he took a sharp caught and bowled to remove Afghan and bowled the joint-fastest delivery of the tournament at 153kph. In the next over, Hasan Ali delivered another crippling blow when he had Gurbaz caught. The eventful PowerPlay ended with Afghanistan reeling at 49 for four.
Najibullah Zadran gave the boisterous Afghan fans something to cheer about with two delightful fours off Shadab Khan. But with boundaries still proving to be few and far between, Karim Janat perished trying to go big against Imad, who ended with figures of 4-0-25-2. Leg-spinner Shadab tightened the noose further with the wicket of Zadran to leave Afghanistan 76 for 6 in 13 overs.
With captain Nabi and former skipper Naib at the crease and Rashid Khan still to come, Afghanistan eyed a late surge in the death overs. Gulbadin was severe on Hasan, collecting 19 off his last over with two fours and a six. The two then got stuck into Haris and clobbered 15 off his fourth. Afridi’s last over went for seven as Afghanistan took 54 off the last five overs.
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