UAE vs Afghanistan: Najibullah Zadran’s knock gives visitors T20 series win

Hosts can take positives from brilliant fightback after they were restricted to 126 for nine

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Afghanistan edged out the UAE by four wickets to clinch T20I series 2-1 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.

Najibullah Zadran was the hero for the Afghans. He rounded off the victory with a couple of maximums off Junaid Siddique to get his side over the line with nine balls to spare. The visitors finished on 128-6 chasing 126 to win.

Afghanistan were 103 for six in 16.5 overs when Mohammad Nabi fell and then it was Najibullah who stood ice cool, smashing an unbeaten 28 in 13 balls with a couple of fours and two sixes.

All five UAE bowlers were among the wickets with Siddique taking two while Aayan Afzal Khan, Muhammad Jawadullah, Ali Naseer and Dhruv Parashar took a wicket apiece.

Hazratullah Zazai (36 off 32), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (20 off 14) and the captain Ibrahim Zadran (23 off 30) provided a slow but steady start before the host team hit back.

Siddique catalysed the breakthrough, taking the wicket of Gurbaz, caught by Aryan Lakra, before Naseer and Parashar struck to help send the top three back to the dugout. Afghanistan were in a tight spot before Najibullah came out with a sterling knock to take his side home.

In the home side's innings, Afghan quick Naveen-ul-Haq struck twice from his first two deliveries. He had Aryan Lakra playing on and Vriitya Aravind trapped in front after Fazalhaq Farooqi leaked out 15 in the opening over.

Tanish Suri made a positive start. He began with a boundary and a single off Naveen from the first two deliveries he faced but played out a maiden against Farooqi in the next over for the UAE to move their score to 22 for two in three.

Suri (7 off 12) guided a short rising delivery from Naveen straight down the throat of Azmatullah Omarzai at deep third man.

Parashar was out for a second successive duck when Omarzai got one through the gate at 38 for four, and that brought the experienced Basil Hameed to the middle.

Qais Ahmad got his act together in the middle overs. The leg spinner had the dangerous looking Waseem for 27 as he charged down for only Gurbaz to whip the bails off as the UAE had half their side back in the dugout for 56.

Hameed (12) and Aayan (10) were both bowled by Qais who returned with three for 24 from his four overs to leave the UAE reeling at 75 for seven in 12.5 overs.

The UAE’s tail wagged with useful contributions from Naseer (21), Akif Raja (10) and Jawadullah (13 not out) for them to finish at 126 for nine.

Updated: January 03, 2024, 6:53 AM