Confident Afghanistan look to stun favorites Pakistan in opener


Shadab Khan and Rashid Khan pose with the trophy.

Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter

A confident Afghanistan will fancy their chances of a series victory against a depleted Pakistan in the three-match T20 series, which gets under way at the iconic Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Friday.

Afghanistan are coming into the match on the back of a series win against the UAE. Afghanistan have also recalled former skipper Mohammad Nabi after leaving him out of the three-match T20 series against UAE that they won 2-1 last month. Captain Rashid Khan predicted a tough series and vowed to give their best.

“We defeated the UAE 2-1. But in T20 cricket, you cannot take any team lightly. If we defeated the UAE, it does not mean they were not strong. This is a very unpredictable format and any team can win on a given day.

“In this format, one batsman can take the game away from you single –handedly. So Pakistan, even without their star players like Babar Azam, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Mohammad Rizwan are very dangerous side. But we are confident of putting up a fighting performance and register our first series victory against them,” said Rashid.

“It is a gentleman game and I request all our supporters to watch the game in the good spirit and we will also try to play in the same spirit,” he added.

Both the countries have passionate fans and they have often indulged in heated arguments during the matches. Pakistan will be led by the young skipper Shadab Khan.  

A full-strength Pakistan lost their last series against New Zealand on their home turf. Pakistan have rested their front line players along with the regular captain Babar. They drafted seven uncapped players from the recently concluded Pakistan Super League (PSL).

Shadab will lead Pakistan second time. He was named as the captain against New Zealand in the ODI series, which Pakistan lost 2-1. Shadab exuded confidence in his youthful team.

Both the teams have met three times before and Pakistan have beaten Afghanistan in all three previous T20Is — a one-off match in 2013 in Sharjah, T20 World Cup 2021 and Asia Cup last year.

“It is great honour to lead your country. When we start playing cricket, we dream of playing for our national teams and what can be better than to lead them.

“This is going to be my second experience as a captain. I have quite a few new faces in the team but I am confident of winning. We have a very talented pool of players,” said Shadab.

“We are a perfect blend of youth and experience and we have what it takes to win the series. These boys are coming straight from the PSL. So they are carrying their momentum and together we will make a difference,” he Shadab.

“Afghanistan are a very strong team. They have some big stars like Rashid Khan, who plays in all the leagues around the world. But we are also well prepared,” he apprised.

Shadab was doubtful whether playing during the Holy month of Ramadan will take its toll on them.

“This is my first experience to play during Ramadan. I have never played any domestic cricket in Ramadan. I hope that it will be a bit different and taxing as well.

“We will fast during the day time and in the evening after breaking fast we will come to play. I have no idea how it is going to turn out to be. But of course, as professionals we have to take care of our bodies. I hope it does not take toll on the players,” he added.

Pakistan agreed to play the series, the first bilateral between the two countries, in place of three one-day internationals that Afghanistan were supposed to play against Australia this month.

Cricket Australia pulled out of that series following an announcement from Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban that it was banning university education for girls and not forming a women’s cricket team.


Pakistan: Shadab Khan (captain), Abdullah Shafique, Azam Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Ihsanullah, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Shan Masood, Tayyab Tahir, Zaman Khan

Afghanistan: Rashid Khan (captain), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Usman Ghani, Sediqullah Atal, Najibullah Zadran, Afsar Zazai, Karim Janat, Mohammad Nabi, Azmatullah Omarzai, Gulbadin Naib, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Noor Ahmad, Mujeeb Ur Rehman, Fareed Ahmad, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Naveen-ul-Haq.





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