Sharjah: Pakistan stand-in skipper and all-rounder Shadab Khan believes plenty of positives will come from his side's series loss to Afghanistan and the consistent efforts of experienced absentees Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan will be further appreciated when the star duo return to the national setup and said that there is always a "sword hanging over them of strike rate".
Afghanistan stunned Pakistan by claiming their second victory and securing the three-match T20I series at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Sunday. Babar and Rizwan were rested for the ongoing three-game series against Afghanistan in Sharjah as a host of players with less experience and fewer credentials were given a chance to shine in the absence of the ultra-reliable top-order pair.
The results from the opening two games of the series have not gone to plan as Afghanistan registered a thrilling seven-wicket victory over Pakistan on Sunday to clinch their first series triumph over their Asian rival.
The usual stability of Babar and Rizwan early in Pakistan's innings has been lacking during the first two matches against Afghanistan and Shadab thinks too many people take the performances of the experienced duo for granted.
"People criticise Babar and Rizwan regardless of whether they perform or not. There is always a sword hanging over them of strike rate. As a nation, we wanted youngsters to come in international cricket, as they were performing in PSL (Pakistan Super League), so we thought they would play with a better strike rate," Shadab said as quoted by ICC after the match.
"But finally, our nation will realise that experience matters and our seniors did not get the respect they deserved considering their performances. So after this series, they will get a lot more respect from media and the nation," added Shadab.
Pakistan lost three wickets inside the first four overs of Sunday's clash and was always on the backfoot as they mustered a modest total of 130/6 from their 20 overs. Contributions from Imad Wasim (64* off 57 balls with three fours and two sixes) and Shadab (32 off 25 balls with three fours) helped Pakistan reach this modest total. The duo stitched a stand of 67 runs for the sixth wicket after Pakistan was reduced to 63/5.
Fazalhaq Farooqi (2/19) was the pick of the bowlers for Afghanistan. Naveen-ul-Haq, Rashid Khan and Karim Janat got one scalp each.
Afghanistan chased down that victory target with a solitary delivery remaining, leaving Shadab to ponder what may have been if his side had been able to post a slightly larger total. Rahmanullah Gurbaz (44 off 49 balls with two fours and a six) and Ibrahim Zadran (38 off 40 balls with three fours) made notable contributions for Afghanistan.
Zaman Khan and Insanullah took a wicket each for Pakistan.
"When you lose three wickets in powerplay, you lose 70 per cent of the games...the young players were nervous. They are playing for the first time for Pakistan, but we have to back them. Our motive for this series was to check out talented young players and we have to back them in the future," concluded Shadab.
The third and final T20I will take place in Sharjah on Monday, with Pakistan trailing by 2-0 in the series. They had lost the first game by six wickets.