Tempted by free entry and the chance to see their cricketing heroes in action, Afghanistan’s support was overwhelming at ICC Academy.
Hundreds of Afghans turned out to cheer on their team and they were duly rewarded with a narrow victory as UAE came up short in the final over of the match.
Chasing Afghanistan’s target of 162, UAE were in the contest at 106-3 and Shaiman Anwar ad Rameez Shahzad at the crease at the start of the 15th over.
Needing a further 56 from five overs on the ICC Academy oval, short boundaries and two set batsmen strengthened their hand despite needing over ten an over.
But, as Shaiman fell for 34 with the second ball of the over, the task grew as the run-rate climbed and the situation got the better of the hosts.
Rameez eventually fell for 49 from 32 balls at the end of the 19th over, ending UAE hopes in the process despite Muhammad Usman’s 18 from eight balls that took UAE close on paper as they finished up 150-7.
Earlier in proceedings, Afghanistan opted to bat after winning the toss and UAE’s Ahmed Raza and Mohammad Naveed exercised superb control to initially nullify Afghanistan’s opening pair of Najeed Tarakai and Mohammad Shahzad.
The UAE duo’s eight overs registered combined figures of 1-36, provided Shah’s men with the perfect start.
However, a combination of shelled catches by UAE and some destructive late Afghanistan hitting saw the latter’s score sky-rocket from 65-3 after ten overs to 161-6 after their allotted 20.
After Shahzad departed for 38, Mohammad Nabi (26) and Karim Janat (25) steadied the ship before Najibullah Zadran (31) and then Rashid Khan (14) bludgeoned their side into the interval.
Zadran’s innings came from just 10 balls and included two fours and three sixes, while Khan’s cameo saw the young leg-spinner hit two fours and a six from his four balls at the crease.
Their combined extra 45 runs from 14 balls ultimately proved the difference as UAE’s batsmen showed their inexperience in closing games out.
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