UAE finish year on high as bowlers seal victory over Afghanistan in T20 series

Ali Naseer and Muhammad Jawadullah pick up four wickets each in 11-run win on Sunday

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The UAE bowlers came to the fore as the home team stunned Afghanistan to level the three-match T20I series with an 11-run win at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Sunday.

Captain Muhammad Waseem and Aryan Lakra smashed half-centuries to help the UAE post a competitive total of 166-7 before Ali Naseer and Muhammad Jawadullah grabbed four wickets each to dismiss their opponents for 155.

Naseer grabbed the first three wickets in three overs and bagged his fourth from his second spell to take the player of the match award for an excellent spell of 4-1-24-4.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz (21), the centurion in the first game, was Naseer's first victim when he skied one for Waseem to hold on at mid-off.

Afghan captain Ibrahim Zadran (4) was caught at third man by Jawadullah while Hazratullah Zazai (36) fell to a catch behind by Tanish Suri to leave the visitors at 72-3 in 9.4 overs.

Jawadullah (4-26) grabbed four in his second spell to turn the game around.

The left-arm seamer castled Najibullah Zadran (12) and Darwish Rasooli played on his next delivery to leave the Afghans struggling at 95-5 in 13.5.

He struck twice in two deliveries in the next and Junaid Siddique took one in-between to leave Afghanistan tottering at 128-9 in 17.5 overs.

However, Afghanistan weren’t going down without a fight. Mohammad Nabi smashed 19 off Siddique’s penultimate over that left them needing 20 to win off Akif Raja’s final over.

Nabi (47 off 27) hit the second ball for a maximum and needed a couple of sixes from the last two deliveries but top edged a catch to Lakra at deep backward point as the home celebrated a famous win.

Earlier, Waseem and Lakra both struck fifties to help post a decent score.

Waseem, dropped at 10, led the charge with a 32-ball 53 and Lakra played the anchor role to remain 63 not out off 47 after the host team elected to bat first.

Waseem hammered Noor Ahmad for two sixes and two fours when the left-arm spinner came in the last powerplay over. The UAE were up and running at 55 for no loss in six overs.

The UAE captain reached his half-century in 29 balls before falling to a catch to Mohammad Nabi at long-off in Qais Ahmad’s first over.

After a cautious start, Lakra changed gears. He lofted Noor over the long-on fence for six and also smacked Qais over the mid-wicket boundary for his second maximum.

Joined by Raja (13 not out off 11), the pair added a useful 39 for the eighth wicket to help the UAE finish strongly.

Lakra moved to 49 with a six that sailed over the stadium roof and followed up with a single to cover to reach his half century off 42 balls. His 47-ball knock contained fours sixes and three fours.

Updated: December 31, 2023, 6:38 PM