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Friday, June 14, 2024  
07 Dhul-Hijjah 1445  

Pakistan stutter in first T20I against Afghanistan

Play four debutants, lose early wickets
Afghanistan players celebrate after taking wicket of a Pakisani batter (not in the picture) during first T20I at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on March 24, 2023. Photo via Twitter/@ICC
Afghanistan players celebrate after taking wicket of a Pakisani batter (not in the picture) during first T20I at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on March 24, 2023. Photo via Twitter/@ICC
Pakistan captain Shadab Khan and Afghanistan skipper Rashid Khan during the toss at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on March 24, 2023. Photo via Twitter/@TheRealPCB
Pakistan captain Shadab Khan and Afghanistan skipper Rashid Khan during the toss at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on March 24, 2023. Photo via Twitter/@TheRealPCB

Pakistan was struggling against Afghanistan in the first of the three T20Is against Afghanistan at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Friday. The men in green, who played with four debutants, were 63/6 after 13 overs.

Debutants

They received their T20I caps from the seniors and coach of the team, wishing that the new players would play with the same intent as they did in the Pakistan Super League.

Top-order batter Abdullah Shafique, all-rounders Faheem Ashraf and Imad Wasim, and Azam Khan have returned to the Pakistan side.

These eight players were named in the 15-member squad for the T20I series after their performances in the domestic circuit and the recently-concluded PSL 8.

‘I want to do justice with this opportunity’

“Whatever I had done in my life was to achieve this jersey and now I want to do justice with this opportunity. There’s excitement and an element of nervousness as well as I never expected to play for Pakistan this early. But, since I have gotten this opportunity, I am going to do my best,” Saim Ayub told PCB Digital.

The Karachi-born cricketer comes into the side after a “highly impressive run” for Sindh and Peshawar Zalmi. “The left-hander played an integral role in crowning Sindh the National T20 champions as he made 416 runs in 12 matches at a strike rate of 155.22,” said the PCB.

He went on to add that it was very important to give a “good start” to the team in T20 cricket. For him, assess the conditions quickly and making the presence count were important.

‘Dream’

Tayyab Tahir thanked God for getting an opportunity to serve the country.

“Whenever a cricketer starts his journey, he idolises the ones who wear the national colours and dream of doing the same,” Tayyab said.

Tayyab has been in good touch over the last year. He marked his PSL 8 debut with a whirlwind 65 and made 137 runs at 144.21 and was the best batter of the Pakistan Cup, that concluded in January.

“There will definitely be some nerves when I play for Pakistan, but I will be able to overcome them as I have been playing competitive and quality cricket at domestic level and in the HBL Pakistan Super League. I am very excited to make my Pakistan debut.”

‘Goal achieved’

Zaman Khan, who hails from Mirpur, said it was his goal to play for the country. The right-arm pacer was outstanding with the new and old ball in the Powerplay and death overs in the T20 league.

“I am very excited and will give my best for my team. I have had a good PSL 8 and that will definitely help me a great deal over here. The presence of Umer [Gul, bowling coach] bhai has helped me immensely. We discussed how every pitch is different and spoke in detail, about the behaviour of Sharjah wicket. He told me that hitting the hard length will be helpful. I will definitely keep that in mind,” he said.

Khan defended 13 off the last over to help Lahore Qalandars to their second straight PSL title and took 15 wickets at 23.60 runs per dismissal and an economy of 8.53 in the recent season.

‘Parents dream have come true’

“My parents wanted me to play for Pakistan and I am delighted that their dream is coming true,” Ihsanullah, who belongs to the village of Matta in Swat, said.

Ihsanullah Khan played for Multan Sultans in the league. He was the first bowler in the tournament to pick a five-wicket haul and he went on to finish the tournament as the best player and best bowler for taking 22 wickets.

“Definitely my experience of the HBL PSL will come in handy. There were players from all around the world and even from Afghanistan and I learned a great deal bowling to them, so it is going to be useful.”

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