Pakistan players celebrate a wicket. — PCB Twitter
Stand-in skipper Shadab Khan gave an all-round performance to guide Pakistan to a consolation 66-run win in the third and final Twenty20 international at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Monday but Afghanistan took the series 2-1.
Having lost the first two matches by six and seven wickets respectively, Pakistan’s new-look side posted a strong 182-7 in 20 overs before restricting Afghanistan to 116 in 18.4 overs.
Opener Saim Ayub led an improved batting show as Pakistan scored 182-7 after their below-par 92-9 and 130-6 in the first two matches.
Shadab then became the first Pakistani and seventh bowler overall to complete 100 T20I wickets in his 87th match, claiming 3-13.
Afghanistan was never in hunt for the stiff target as fiery pacer Ihsanullah dismissed Rahmanullah Gurbaz (18) and Karim Janat (nought) before his sharp bouncer left Najibullah Zadran’s chin bleeding.
Najibullah was stable but could not resume his innings. Azmatullah Omarzai, concussion substitute for Najibullah, top-scored with 20-ball 21, hitting a six and two boundaries.
Ihsanullah finished with 3-29.
Mohammad Nabi was run out for 17, Rashid Khan made 16 and Usman Ghani scored 15 before becoming Shadab’s 100th T20I wicket.
Despite the series defeat, Pakistan can take heart from the fact that they checked their bench strength, having rested regular skipper Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf.
Earlier, Ayub hit a solid 40-ball 49 with two sixes and four boundaries while Iftikhar Ahmed scored 31 from 25 balls with two sixes.
Shadab, who made 28, and Abdullah Shafique (23) were the other main run getters.
For Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman was the pick of the bowlers with 2-28.
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