Despite going down to Afghanistan in what was their first bilateral series against the side, Pakistan have got what they wanted from the three T20 Internationals; experience for the younger lot.
On the challenging surfaces at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, the inexperienced Pakistan batters struggled to put the bat on the ball while the visitors’ new-look bowling attack took their time to learn what worked for them.
In the process, Pakistan were beaten in the first two games to lose the series but how opener Saim Ayub (49 off 40) and pacer Ihsanullah (3-29) — both uncapped before the series — stood out to help their team get a 66-run consolation win in the final fixture showed Pakistan experimenting with them wasn’t a bad idea after all.
Other than Saim and Ihsanullah, Abdullah Shafique showed immense grace with the bat for a considerable cameo of 23 off 13 balls while Pakistan’s stand-in captain Shadab Khan capped up the series with an all-round performance — a 17-ball 28 with the bat and 3-13 with the ball — which spoke volumes of his capabilities to lead from the front.
“The motive of the series was to give opportunities to youngsters and improve our bench strength,” Shadab said during the post-match press conference on Monday night.
“Although we couldn’t perform very well, the experience that they have gained from this series will help Pakistan in the future.”
Afghanistan, being the hosts, ensured they challenged Pakistan with the conditions at play while also being extremely disciplined with the ball and pacing their chases in the first two matches perfectly.
Unlike the Rashid Khan-led side, Pakistan had their problems with assessing the conditions, especially coming into the series right after participating in the HBL Pakistan Super League — where easier conditions were at play — according to Shadab’s admission.
“I think we assessed the conditions better [in the third ODI],” said the 24-year-old. “The conditions here were very different from how they were during the PSL and the youngsters took some time to get used to them.