UAE stun Afghanistan, win second T20 match in Sharjah

The national cricket team beat Afghanistan, a Test-playing nation, in the second match of the three-match T20 series on Sunday

by

Rituraj Borkakoty

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UAE's players celebrate a wicket. — Emirates Cricket Board
UAE's players celebrate a wicket. — Emirates Cricket Board

Published: Sun 31 Dec 2023, 11:54 PM

Last updated: Mon 1 Jan 2024, 12:03 AM

Less than five months after beating New Zealand in a T20 International, the UAE have done it again.

The national cricket team beat Afghanistan, a Test-playing nation which beat cricket giants Pakistan, England and Sri Lanka at the 2023 World Cup, in the second match of the three-match T20 series by 11 runs at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Sunday.

Having lost the first match of the series by 72 runs on Friday, UAE bounced back with a magnificent performance to beat the Afghans on the last day of the year.

The home team, after winning the toss, made 166 for seven, thanks to 22-year-old opener Aryan Lakra's fantastic 63 not out off 42 balls and skipper Muhammad Waseem superb 32-ball 53.

Waseem's team then defended the total in a thrilling finish as the Afghans were all out for the 155 in the final over.

It was a fantastic end to the year for UAE's cricket as, just two weeks after the under-19-team’s stirring run to the Under-19 Asia Cup final in Dubai, the senior team have earned a big scalp, giving new hopes for the sport in the New Year.

On Sunday, the margin of defeat could have been bigger for Afghanistan if not for a late onslaught from veteran all-rounder Mohammad Nabi (47 off 27 balls) who was the last batsman to fall.

For the UAE, 19-year-old pacer Ali Naseer (4-1-24-4) and Muhammad Jawadullah (4-0-26-4), the 24-year-old new-ball bowler, were the heroes as they shared eight wickets between them.

Naseer, who was named man-of-the-match, for his brilliant four-wicket haul, was delighted with the victory.

Akif Raja celebrates after taking the last wicket
Akif Raja celebrates after taking the last wicket

"I was confident coming into the match. The whole team played a great game. The preparations have been very good for the past one month under our coach Mudassar Nazar. I think the results are evident today. Hopefully, we can win the third match as well and take the series home," Naseer said after the match.

"The wicket was slow in the first match. But today, there was some grass on it, I was little surprised. So I tried to bowl a hard length and luckily the ball was moving both ways and bouncing up, so I think the wicket helped me quite a bit today."

The Afghans, though, threatened to run away with the match and the series after their two openers, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (21 off 17 balls), who scored a scintillating hundred in the first match, and Hazratullah Zazai (36 off 27 balls) put on 47 runs for the first wicket in just 5.2 overs.

But, in a remarkable spell of swing and pace, Naseer brought the UAE back into the match, taking the first three wickets of the Afghanistan innings, with his first victim being the dangerous Gurbaz, one of the stars for the Afghan team in the recent ODI World Cup.

"I think my first over was really good, it was a wicket-maiden, that too it was the last over of the power-play," Naseer said.

"I got Gurbaz, who got a hundred in the last game, so I think that was a big wicket. So that last over of the power-play really got the momentum back for the UAE."

The series decider will be played on January 2 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

Brief scores:

The UAE beat Afghanistan by 11 runs in the second T20I.

The UAE 166 for seven in 20 overs (Aryan Lakra 63 not out, Muhammad Waseem 53, Qais Ahmad 2/15)

Afghanistan 155 all out in 19.5 overs (Mohammad Nabi 47, Hazratullah Zazai 36; Ali Naseer 4/24, Muhammad Jawadullah 4/26, Akif Raja 1/33, Junaid Siddique 1/36)

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