Muhammad Waseem razed Afghanistan’s vaunted bowling attack as UAE levelled the T20 international series in fine style on Saturday night.
The in-form opener, who excelled in the International League T20 over the past month, smashed 91 in 50 balls to help the home team to a nine-wicket win at Zayed Cricket Stadium.
His masterful showing included taking 22 off the second over bowled by Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, the mystery spinner who is an Indian Premier League star.
He brought up his half century in just 22 balls. He celebrated by lofting the next delivery, off seamer Naveen-ul-Haq, straight back over the bowler’s head for his fifth six in the space of his first 23 balls.
He departed when in sight of what would have been a third century in T20 internationals, when he drilled a catch at Rashid Khan, the Afghan captain, off the bowling of Karim Janat. His innings included seven sixes and eight fours.
The national team had only required 138 to win after a canny display by their bowlers, led by Zahoor Khan.
The seamer, who had also thrived in the ILT20 while playing alongside Waseem at MI Emirates, took two for 25 from his four overs.
The win was one of UAE’s finest ever in the short format, given the status of their opposition, who had been comfortable winners in the first match between the sides on Thursday.
The series will reach its climax on Sunday night when the sides play the third game at the Zayed Cricket Stadium, starting at 6pm.
Earlier in the day, the Emirates Cricket Board had announced the dates for the second season of the ILT20 next year.
The competition will start on Saturday, 13 January 2024, retaining the same 34-game format as its opening season, which was won by Gulf Giants last Sunday.