Veteran all-rounder Mohammad Nabi starred with both bat and ball as Afghanistan defeated Ireland by five wickets Thursday’s first Twenty20 international.
Nabi and fellow spinner Rashid Khan took two wickets each to restrict Ireland to 132 for six in Dehradun (where Afghanistan are hosting Ireland).
He then hit an unbeaten 49 from 86 balls in an unbroken sixth-wicket partnership with Najibullah Zadran as Afghanistan reached the target with four balls to spare and take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Afghanistan were in trouble after being reduced to 50-5 but the left-right batting pair of Nabi and Zadran, who made 40, ensured their team’s eighth consecutive T20 win over Ireland.
The 34-year-old Nabi, who was named man of the match, hit five fours and a six in his 40-ball knock while Zadran also took the attack to the opposition bowlers on a seemingly tricky wicket.
Ireland’s pace spearhead Boyd Rankin took two wickets but gave away 39 runs in his four overs.
Earlier Ireland recovered from a precarious 65 for six to bolster their total after electing to bat first in Afghanistan’s adopted homeground.
George Dockrell, who made 34, and wicketkeeper-batsman Stuart Poynter, who scored 31, put on an unbeaten 67-run stand.
Khan, the world’s top-ranked T20 bowler, weaved his magic in his very first over, taking two wickets in the space of three deliveries as Ireland slipped to 65 for six in the 12th over.
The batting duo played the Afghanistan spinners with aplomb and then counter attacked in the last five overs to get 47 runs from the final 30 deliveries.
Nabi returned an impressive 2-16 in four overs of off-spin.
The second match will be held on Saturday in Dehradun.