Pakistan win third T20 to deny Afghanistan clean sweep
SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates (AP):
Afghanistan were foiled in their bid for a series sweep when Pakistan won their third and last Twenty20 by 66 runs yesterday.
Pakistan finally came good without five rested frontline players to post a challenging 182 runs for seven wickets, then bowled out Afghanistan for 116 with eight balls remaining.
Pakistan interim captain Shadab Khan and young fast bowler Ihsanullah shared six wickets. Shadab, with three wickets for 13 runs, became the first Pakistan men's player to reach 100 wickets in T20s. Ihsanullah got three for 29 with his short-pitched deliveries.
Shadab provided a late flourish with the bat by smashing a 17-ball 28 after Saim Ayub missed out on his maiden T20 half-century by one run.
Defeat in the dead rubber couldn't spoil Afghanistan's history-making effort in winning their first series 2-1 against Pakistan in any format.
"It's a special occasion to be part of this team," Afghanistan captain Rashid Khan said. "We won the series, but we have some areas to improve on. We responded well under pressure. We have struggled under pressure in the past but I'm happy that we chased in a couple of games."
Najibullah Zadran retired hurt off the first ball he faced after he was struck on the grille by Ihsanullah. Concussion substitute Azmatullah Omarzai made 21 before he was the last man to be dismissed.
Pakistan made only 92 for nine and 130 for six in the first two T20s but adapted well to the conditions.
Left-hander Saim batted fluently against the pace and spin of Rashid Khan, hitting two sixes and four boundaries, while Abdullah Shafique made 23 off 13 balls and finally broke his drought after failing to score in his previous four T20s.
Iftikhar Ahmed, playing his first match in the series, made 31 off 25 balls and, together with Shadab, accelerated in the death overs to help Pakistan tally their best total of the series.
"We wanted to finish on a high note, and we have done that," Shadab said. "We needed to play for Pakistan's pride, and we did it. The main motive of this series was to give the youngsters a chance. Hopefully, they will get confidence from these matches and it will help them in the long run."
Afghanistan struggled to get momentum in the chase and lost their last seven wickets for 45 runs.