Afghanistan and Pakistan had met a total of seven times, with Pakistan always coming out on top – until Friday’s game.
Afghanistan defeated Pakistan in a T20 International (T20I) – the first win by the Afghan side in four T20Is against Pakistan.
The cricket teams have met a total of seven times and played three previous T20Is and four one-day international matches in their rivalry, with Pakistan always coming out on top, wrote Al Jazeera’s Abid Hussain.
Pakistan, without five rested front-line players, including captain Babar Azam, struggled on a slow and low pitch at Sharjah Cricket Stadium in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) against the Afghans, whose six bowlers shared all nine wickets.
Afghanistan overcame its fall to 45-4 in the 10th over to cruise home 98-4, winning by six wickets with over two overs left.
Mohammad Nabi scored Afghanistan’s first victory over Pakistan in what was five tries in the past decade with a long-range straight six.
“It’s a pleasure to win because we’ve always lost to them by narrow margins,” said Afghan skipper Rashid Khan.
“Wearing Afghan colors and leading the team to victory is a proud achievement. We never know the wicket. . . (but the) mentality was. . . adjust accordingly.”
Afghanistan has a chance for a first series victory in the remaining two T20s on Sunday and Monday.
The historic victory was celebrated on social media by Afghan cricket fans.
It was a historic moment for #Afghanistan cricket. Congratulations again on their first #T20I win against Pakistan @MohammadNabi007 performance and @rashidkhan_19 captaincy were truly exceptional. #AFGvPAK2023 @ICC @ACBofficials
— Shahzad Aryobee (@sharyobee) March 25, 2023
With five lead actors – skipper Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf rested for the series – Pakistan gave T20I debut to Saim Ayub, Tayyab Tahir, Ihsanullah and Zaman Khan.
But none of the Pakistani batters could accelerate on a two-speed pitch and fell mostly on soft discharges.
Lacking formidable openers Azam and Rizwan, substitutes Ayub and Mohammad Haris could not fathom the low bounce and fell within the batting power play while attempting extravagant shots.
Abdullah Shafique was pinned by Azmatullah Omarzai for 0 and Tayyab Tahir, one of four to make their Pakistan debut, lobbed a return catch to Rashid Khan. When Azam Khan was also out for a duck on his debut, Pakistan was 41-5 in the eighth over.
Pakistan threatened its lowest T20I total of 74 in 2012 against Australia in Dubai, but Imad Wasim top-scored with 18.
“Sometimes this can happen because young people are nervous, but they should be given opportunities,” said Pakistan’s interim captain Shadab Khan.
“As professionals we cannot make excuses regarding the circumstances, we have to learn from the loss here.”
Unorthodox spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman took 2-9 and Fazalhaq Farooqi 2-13.
Pakistan’s fast bowling debutant Ihsanullah got two wickets in his first over with short deliveries.
Afghanistan soon trailed by four, but Nabi, 38 not out, and Najibullah Zadran, 17 not out, got them across the finish line.
Ihsanullah finished 2-17.