Kolkata Knight Rider’s Rahmanullah Gurbaz scored a sensible 49-ball 44 in the second T20I of the three-match series on Sunday (March 26) to help Afghanistan register their maiden series victory over Pakistan in the shortest format.
After affecting a couple of dismissals with the gloves on, the young wicketkeeper-batter led Afghanistan’s chase at the UAE’s Sharjah Cricket Stadium as they defeated Pakistan by seven wickets and with one ball remaining to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series. In fact, it’s the first time that Afghanistan have won a series against an ICC top-six ranked country.
Batting first, Pakistan got off to a dismal start as they lost their first three batters (Saim Ayub, Mohammad Haris and Abduallah Shafique) inside the first four overs. Both Ayub and Shafique were caught out by Gurbaz as they fell prey to Fazalhaq Farooqi and Naveen-ul-Haq respectively for a duck each.
Recovering from the slump, the visitors rode Imad Wasim’s 57-ball unbeaten 64 and a late surge from captain Shadab Khan (32* off 25 balls) to post 130/6 at the end of their 20 overs.
Gurbaz made a blistering start to Afghanistan’s chase as he hit pacer Naseem Shah for a six and a boundary in the very first over. Although Afghanistan lost Usman Ghani’s (7 off 9 balls) wicket in the fourth over, Gurbaz combined with Ibrahim Zadran (38 off 40 balls) to anchor the ship and put on 56 runs for the second wicket.
The 21-year-old was eventually run out in the sixteenth over when his failed attempt at a reverse lap shot went straight to Naseem at short third man. Gurbaz hit 2 fours and a six during his stay at the crease.
“Congratulations to all Afghans. (We) successfully won the Pak vs Afg series. Thanks for the support and love. Keep remembering us in your prayers for the last match as well,” an elated Gurbaz wrote on Instagram after the landmark victory.
Gurbaz, who was traded from Gujarat Titans to KKR in November last year, scored a 17-ball 16 in the first T20I on Friday. With the last match of the series slated to be played on Monday (March 27), he will look to make yet another valuable contribution and help his country record a clean sweep.
The explosive opener, who amassed 176 runs from 8 innings at a strike-rate of 149.15 in the latest edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and 168 runs from 9 innings at a strike-rate of 135.48 in the inaugural edition of the International League T20 (ILT20), is yet to make his TATA Indian Premier League (IPL) debut. Hopefully, he will have a season to remember in KKR’s quest for their third title.