Pak vs Afg: Azhar Ali comes forward in support of Pakistan team

"It is so unfortunate that people on social media straight away start to criticise selection after a defeat," former Test...

Saturday, March 25, 2023
An undated image of former Test cricketer Azhar Ali addressing a press conference. — Cricket Australia/File

Pakistan's former Test cricketer Azhar Ali stepped forward in support of the young cricketers who are currently playing against Afghanistan in Sharjah.

A young and comparatively less experienced Pakistani squad lost to Afghanistan. Following the defeat, people started criticising the young players.

While reacting to the criticism, Azhar urged people to not judge players after one bad performance.

"It is so unfortunate that people on social media straight away start to criticise the selection after a defeat it’s easy saying things in hindsight.

"They speak about building bench strength but they can’t even be patient. All these players have the potential to bounce back," he wrote.

A day earlier, veteran all-rounder, Mohammad Nabi guided Afghanistan to a six-wicket win over a new-look Pakistan in the first T20 international of a three-game series on Friday.

Nabi took 2-12 and was ably assisted by Mujeeb Ur Rahman (2-9) and pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi (2-13) to restrict Pakistan to 92-9 after they won the toss and batted at Sharjah Stadium.

Nabi then kept his cool with a cautious run-a-ball 38 not out and added 53 for the unbroken fifth wicket with Najibullah Zadran (17 not out) to help Afghanistan overhaul the target in 17.5 overs.

Nabi hit his first boundary off his 27th ball and then hit two more in the next over from Naseem Shah before sealing the win with a six off Ihsanullah.

This became Afghanistan's first win in four T20 internationals against Pakistan.

Pace bowler Ihsanullah (2-17) dismissed Ibrahim Zadran (nine) with the first ball of his T20I career and then had Gulbadin Naib (nought) to leave Afghanistan tottering at 45-4 but Nabi and Najibullah made sure victory was achieved.

"It was a tough score to chase in these conditions," said Nabi after being named man of the match.

"As a bowling unit, we wanted to keep them under 100 and that´s what we did.

"With the bat, I wanted to take responsibility and close the game. Most of the guys in our squad are playing big leagues, some have been here in the UAE for 15 days. So we were set. Thirty-eight on this wicket can feel like a hundred."

Stand-in Pakistan skipper Shadab Khan confessed his new players were nervous.

"Tactics-wise, we were fine," said Shadab. "But sometimes this can happen due to youngsters being nervous. They need to be given chances, they will get better."

With five key players — skipper Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf rested for the series — Pakistan handed T20I debuts to Saim Ayub, Tayyab Tahir, Ihsanullah and Zaman Khan.

— Addition input from AFP