Afghanistan made a positive start to the three-match T20 series against the UAE as they eased to a five-wicket win at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
Karim Janat struck 53 off 38 balls and shared a match-winning 67-run stand for the fourth wicket with Afsar Zazai (48) to chased down the target of 143 with five deliveries to spare.
UAE put up a good fight early in Afghanistan's chase. Junaid Siddiqui grabbed two wickets in two overs and Zahoor Khan picked up another to leave Afghanistan 48-3 in 6.2 overs. Despite losing early wickets, Afghanistan were on track in terms of run rate, reaching 70-3 at the halfway stage of the chase.
Afsar carted Rohan Mustafa for 14 in his first over, including two sixes, to kickstart the second half of their innings. From there on, Afsar and Janat changed took control of the chase.
Afsar fell short of his half century after a brilliant catch by CP Rizwan at short mid-on off Muhammad Jawadullah.
That left Afghanistan needing 28 from 30 balls. Janat skied a catch to Mustafa off Zawar Farid but by then, he had taken his side to within five runs of victory.
Earlier, captain Rizwan top-scored for the UAE with a 41-ball 48, while Muhammad Waseem chipped in with 35-ball 33. The pair shared a 75-run stand for the second wicket.
Rashid pulled things back by grabbing two wickets in two balls. He trapped Waseem lbw one ball after the UAE batsman had swept the Afghanistan captain over deep square leg for six. Basil Hameed fell to similar dismissal the first ball he faced to leave the UAE at 98-3 in the 15th over.
Mustafa, with a 15-ball 22, and Aayan Khan (18) share a valuable 30-run stand to take their team’s total to 142-5.
The second match of the series will be played in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.