Najibullah heroics helps Afghanistan clinch series

Najibullah Zadran’s second T20I fifty steered his side home in a tense finish © Peter Della Penna/ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Najibullah Zadran’s unbeaten 55 helped Afghanistan overcome a wobble and secure a final-over win that gave them an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series. Zadran, who walked in to bat at No. 7, hit five fours and three sixes in his 25-ball knock to chase down United Arab Emirates’ 179 for 4 with two balls to spare.

At the halfway mark in the second innings, UAE had the aces – Afghanistan needed 101 off the last 60 balls. That equation became tougher when Usman Ghani, Asghar Stanikzai and Samiullah Shenwari fell in the space of four overs to leave Afghanistan needing 64 off the back six overs. Najibullah broke the shackles by smashing Mohammad Shahzad for two fours and a six to pocket an 18-run over that tilted the scales in Afghanistan’s favour.

UAE, who opted to bat, lost Mohammad Shahzad in the third over. Rohan Mustafa and Shaiman Anwar gave the innings a lift with a sprightly second-wicket stand of 74 before Rashid Khan, the legspinner, struck. Mustafa missed an attempted nudge across the line to be given out lbw.

That wicket, however, did little to derail UAE’s momentum as Anwar batted throuhg to make 60 before being dismissed off the final ball. He struck four fours and three sixes as UAE smashed 59 off the last five overs. It didn’t prove enough on the face of Najibullah’s late onslaught.

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