Saim, bowlers script Pakistan’s consolation win over Afghanistan
SHARJAH: Young left-handed opener Saim Ayub’s sensible 49-run knock and a combined dominant effort by the bowlers led Pakistan to a consolation victory in the third T20I against Afghanistan.
Put into bat first in the third T20I of the three-match series, led by Afghanistan 2-0, Pakistan batters put on an all-round performance to pile a commendable total on the scoreboard with young Saim leading the way with a gritty 49-run knock.
Earlier, the green shirts were once again off to a dismal start to their innings as wicketkeeper batter Mohammad Haris (1) perished cheaply in the second over with just one run on the board.
Promoted to bat at number three, Tayyab Tahir, joined Saim in the middle and launched a brief counterattack on the Afghan bowlers. The right-handed batter was looking to dominate the bowlers, having smashed two boundaries early on, but failed to stretch his knock as he fell after scoring 10 off nine in the fourth over. Abdullah Shafique, who was going through a rough patch in T20Is, came out roaring in the third T20I as he scored a brisk 13-ball 23 before Rashid Khan castled him in the eighth over. He smashed a boundary and two sixes amid his brief knock.
Following Shafique’s dismissal, Iftikhar Ahmed joined Saim in the middle and stitched a vital partnership for the fourth wicket. The pair added 45 runs amid their important partnership and took Pakistan past the 100-run mark in the 12th over with Saim closing in on his maiden half-century. The young left-handed batter, however, came just one run short of his maiden fifty as Mujeeb Ur Rahman took a blinder off Karim Janat’s bowling to cease Saim’s brilliant knock. Saim top-scored for Pakistan with 49 off 40 deliveries, laced up with four boundaries and two sixes.
Pakistan then endured another major setback in the next over as in-form all-rounder Imad Wasim failed to score big and fell victim to Mujeeb after scoring a quick seven-ball 13. With half of the side back in the pavilion, skipper Shadab Khan joined Iftikhar in the middle and scripted a crucial sixth-wicket partnership; adding 38 runs in just 21 deliveries before the latter perished in the 19th over.
Iftikhar remained the notable run-getter for Pakistan with 31 off 25 balls and hit two sixes.
Meanwhile, Shadab, who was hanging in there for Pakistan had a bizarre end to his gritty knock as he hit wickets with his bat after a slow ball by Fareed Ahmed deceived him completely. He scored 28 off 17 balls and smashed five boundaries. Some vital contributions by Mohammad Wasim Jr (9) and Mohammad Nawaz (5) in the last over bolstered Pakistan to finish at 182/7.
Mujeeb led the bowling attack for Afghanistan with 2/28 while Rashid Khan, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Mohammad Nabi, Fareed and Karim struck out a batter each.
Published in The Daily National Courier, March, 28 2023
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