ON THE UP

The condition of Afghanistan Cricket has improved a lot in the last few years. Not only have they started to win matches on the ground, their financial status has become much better too. Now, the players of the team have central contracts which help them earn more than 2000 Dollars per month.

It’s a very low amount if compared to the earnings of the cricketers of other countries, but, for the Afghan cricketers, it’s a lot of money because about 5 years ago, they were getting virtually nothing to play for the national side.

The Afghanistan team is currently in Bangladesh to take part in the Asia Cup. This will be their maiden appearance in that competition and they are very excited about it. They want to play some good cricket against stronger Asian teams like India and Pakistan and want to show everyone that they have got the potential to become a world class side in future.

Talking to a website about different aspects of Afghan cricket, Mohammad Nabi, the skipper of the team said, “The condition of the game in our country is much better now. Yes, we are not being paid as much as the players of other countries, but, still we are happy because it’s a lot more than what we were getting a few years ago.”

When asked if his parents gave him the permission to pursue career in cricket easily or he had to try hard to convince them, Nabi said, “They didn’t want me to become a professional cricketer and that’s because they were worried about my future. But, I decided to go ahead and I think that wasn’t the wrong decision.”

Nabi has so far played 27 one day international matches for Afghanistan.

NOT READY

The coach of the Afghanistan cricket team, Kabir Khan, doesn’t think that his team is ready to be given the test status.

Afghanistan has performed pretty well in the limited overs matches that they have played of late and the cricket pundits have started wondering if the time has come for them to play the longest form of the game. Some think yes it’s the right time, but, the others think that it might be too early. Kabir falls in that second category.

When asked if he thinks that his team is good enough to start playing test match cricket, Kabir said, “No, I don’t think so. To be ready for test cricket, you need to have a first class set up which we don’t have at the moment. If we are given test status now, I don’t think we would manage to give the top sides a fight. We would look like Bangladesh.”

When asked about Afghanistan’s quality performances in the shorter forms of the game recently, Kabir said, “I am very proud of the way the boys have been performing of late. We have achieved a lot of success this year and that’s because we have played as a unit. We need to keep doing that.”

When asked in which areas he thinks Afghanistan has improved significantly under his guidance, Kabir said, “I think the fielding has improved a lot. We have got some terrific fielders who don’t hesitate in putting their bodies in line.”

“The second thing that has improved is our batting against the spinners. We are handling the spin bowling much better now.”

Kabir Khan had been appointed as the coach of the Afghanistan national cricket team for the second time towards the end of 2011.

IN THE DRAW

The Afghanistan cricket team has made it to the main draw of the World Cup 2015. They did that by securing a fantastic victory over Kenya a few days back.

This achievement of the Afghan team has given a lot of joy to the whole nation. People are extremely happy and a lot of them had gathered at the airport to give their heroes a warm reception when they returned back home on Saturday.

Not only the Afghan people, the members of the Afghan team are pretty happy too and why shouldn’t they be? They have earned a place in the main draw after playing some fantastic cricket and they deserve to be given a lot of credit and respect.

The Afghan skipper Mohammad Nabi talked to the reporters after arriving home and he was looking overwhelmed with the kind of reception that he got. He was probably not expecting it.

Nabi said, “I am the happiest and the proudest person in the world at the moment. It’s a huge achievement for the whole country and I congratulate everyone.”

“We have shown that we have got a lot of cricketing potential and I am sure many more big wins will come in the future.”

When asked how big that game against Kenya was for him, Nabi said, “I would say it was the biggest match of my career. I can’t tell you how happy I was when I scored those winning runs. I was over the moon.”

The coach of the Afghan team, Kabir Khan, was also looking very happy during that press conference. He said, “We want to change people’s thinking about Afghanistan. We are willing to show them that Afghanistan is not about negative things only and this win will help us in that.”

U23s FACE INDIA

The Afghanistan U-23 cricket team has defeated the Indian U-23 team in a group match of the ACC Emerging Teams Cup which is being played at Singapore. fghanistan won the match by 28 runs.

This is the first time ever that Afghanistan has secured victory over a test playing country.

The Indians had entered the match as hot favourites on the betting markets and they seemed to be winning the game easily at the half way stage as Afghanistan had managed to post only 184 runs on the board. But, that didn’t happen. The Afghanistan team showed tremendous fighting spirits and a great bowling effort by them saw India falling short of the target by 20 odd runs.

The skipper Mohammad Nabi was the star for the Afghan team. Not even a single Indian player looked comfortable against him. He went for just more than 3 run per over and on top of that; he got 3 crucial wickets too.

India had a very strong batting line up with Unmukt Chand at the top and Baba Aparajith and Ashok Menaria in the middle order, but, none of these 3 guys managed to play a big knock.

The highest scorer for India was their opening batsman Lokesh Rahul who managed to score a half century.

Earlier, India won the toss and decided to field first. The men in blue put up a disciplined performance with the ball and didn’t allow the Afghan batsmen to score freely.

No Afghan batsman managed to get past the score of 50. A couple of guys who made useful contributions for them were Mohammad Shahzad and Karim Sadiq.

Despite losing this game, India managed to make it to the final 4 where they will lock horns with United Arab Emirates (UAE). That match will be played on Friday.

BRIGHT FUTURE

The former Afghanistan player, Raees Ahmadzai, has said that Afghanistan has got some very talented quick bowlers and the future of the team is looking bright.

Ahmadzai played international cricket for Afghanistan for a couple of years only. He played 5 One Day Internationals and 8 T20 Internationals.

He was a right handed hard hitting batsman. When he retired, he was just 26 years of age. He was appointed as the national selector after that. He did that job for 2 years before starting his coaching career.

In one of his recent interviews, when Ahmadzai was asked about the future of Afghanistan cricket, he said, “It is looking bright. We have got youngsters who are full of potential especially in bowling department. We have got bowlers who are capable of bowling with pace.”
“We need to play more and more matches against big teams. It will help us to improve.”

When asked why he retired at such a young age, Ahmadzai said, “I thought it was the right time for me to make way for the youngsters. I am satisfied with what I achieved when I was playing. I played against some great cricketers like MS Dhoni and Graeme Smith and that’s something which I will always be proud of.”

When asked about the atmosphere in the Afghanistan dressing room before their first ever ODI match, Ahmadzai said, “It was great. We were all happy and proud. I personally couldn’t believe that I was going to play international cricket.”

Afghanistan had played their first ever ODI match against Scotland on 19th of April, 2009. They had managed to demolish the Scots in that match and had won by a huge margin of 89 runs.

With that victory, Afghanistan had secured the 5th place in the 2011 World Cup qualifying competition.

PAKISTAN BEAT SOUTH AFRICA

The Pakistan cricket team has defeated South Africa in their second warm up match played at Kennington Oval, London. Pakistan won the match by 7 wickets.
Pakistan’s first warm up match against Sri Lanka was washed out on 30th of July.

The pitch at Kennington Oval had a bit of pace. Keeping that in mind, the Pakistani skipper Misbah-ul-Haq decided to field first after winning the toss.

South Africa didn’t manage to get off to a good start. Their premier batsman Hashim Amla perished in the very first over of the match. He was adjudged leg before wicket off the bowling of the left arm pacer Junaid Khan.
South Africa lost their second wicket in the form of Collin Ingram in the 4th over. Ingram drove the ball towards mid off and tried to steal a single, but, he didn’t succeed in that. Misbah-ul-Haq with a direct hit found him well short of the crease.

South Africa couldn’t recover from these early blows. The middle order batsmen played some irresponsible shots and gifted their wickets away to the opposition bowlers who were looking charged up.

At one point of time, the score of South Africa was 83 for the loss of 7 wickets and they were in deep trouble. But, JP Duminy and the no. 9 batsman Ryan McLaren put up a partnership of 94 runs for the 8th wicket and took South Africa close to 200.

Both Duminy and McLaren got out in quick succession towards the end, but, despite that, South Africa somehow managed to get past the score of 200.

In reply, Pakistan lost the wicket of Nasir Jamshed early. Amla ran him out with a direct hit from mid on.
The vice-captain Mohammad Hafeez walked out at no. 3 and he consolidated the innings with Imran Farhat. Neither of these two players looked in any kind of trouble against the South African pace attack. They played some gorgeous square bat shots and added 80 odd runs for the second wicket to put the pressure right back on the South African bowlers.

Hafeez retired at the end of the 24th over after completing his half century. Pakistan lost a couple of quick wickets after Hafeez’s departure and all of a sudden, the score became 156 for 3.
But, Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar Amin played sensibly after that and saw their team home.

ACC T20 WIN

The Afghanistan Cricket team has won the ACC T20 cup by defeating Nepal in the final match which was played at Tribhuvan University International Cricket Ground, Kirtipur. Afghanistan won the match by 7 wickets.

The toss was won by the Afghan captain Mohammad Nabi and he decided to field first. There was help in the wicket for the fast bowlers. So, it was a very good toss to win.
The Afghan fast bowlers gave Nepal the early blows. The Nepali team was tattering at 23 for 3 in the 5th over.

For the 4th wicket, Paras Khadka and Binod Bhandari put up a 71-run stand and Nepal seemed to be going past 140 easily. But, again, a couple of wickets fell down in quick succession which brought down the run rate.

However, some mammoth hits by Sharad Vesawkar in the last couple of overs ensured that Nepal wouldn’t end up below 130.

The Afghan team didn’t look in any kind of trouble while chasing down that total. A good start made things easier for them. A couple of cameos in the middle overs saw them home.

Gulbadin Naib was the star performer for Afghanistan in this big contest. He excelled both with the bat and the ball. He shared the new ball with Shapoor Zadran and bowled a tremendous spell upfront. He was the one who dismissed both the Nepali openers. He had the figures of 2-20 in 4 overs.

He was the highest run scorer while batting as well. He opened the innings with Karim Sadiq and remained unbeaten till the end. He faced 42 deliveries and scored 43 runs with the help of a four and a six.
Naib was declared man of the match, while, the man of the tournament award went to Paras Khadka of Nepal.

VICTORY OVER SCOTLAND

The Afghanistan Cricket team has defeated Scotland in a T20 match played at Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Afghanistan won the match by 27 runs.

This was the first match of the 2-match T20 series. With this victory, Afghanistan has got up in the series by 1-0.

The Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi won the toss and elected to bat first. The start of the Afghanistan innings was very poor. Both the opening batsmen were dismissed cheaply and at one point of time, the score of Afghanistan was 5 for the loss of 2 wickets.

Mohammad Shahzad and Asghar Stanikzai put up a partnership of 79 runs for the third wicket and created a nice platform for the lower middle order batsmen. Afghanistan had some power hitters down the order and they were expected to reach at least 150. But, that didn’t happen.

In the last five overs, the Afghanistan batsmen didn’t manage to play too many aggressive shots and Afghanistan ended up scoring only 132 runs in 20 overs. The pitch was a bit low and slow, but, even after that, 132 was not looking a match winning score.

Scotland also had a poor start. They also lost a couple of early wickets. A brief partnership of 26 runs was built for the third wicket. That partnership was broken by Samiullah Shenwari when he dismissed Richie Berrington. Just after a couple of deliveries, Kyle Coetzer also departed after scoring 16 runs and the score of Scotland became 39 for 4.

After that, the run rate slowed down quite a bit. The Scotland batsmen were finding it very tough to play fluently against the slower bowlers of Afghanistan. Although, the wickets were not falling regularly but, the run rate was pretty low.

Scotland managed to put up only 105 runs on the board in 20 overs and lost the match.
The Afghanistan wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad was declared man of the match for his half century.

PAKISTAN VISIT

The Afghanistan Cricket team has visited Pakistan for one month training camp. During this period, the Afghan team will play 8 One day matches and 4 T20 matches against the domestic sides in Pakistan. The Afghan team reached Lahore yesterday.

After reaching Lahore, the captain and coach of the Afghanistan team talked to the reporters in a press conference.

The coach of the team Kabir Khan said, “We are here for a 4-week training camp. Our players will get tremendous facilities available here in the NCA. There are also some world class coaches here. So, it’s a good learning curve for our inexperienced players.”

“We will also play some matches here against the local teams. The local teams over here are pretty strong ones. So, we will face tough completion and we will have to play really well to win those matches.”

“This tour will help us to prepare for the world cup qualifying tournament which is going to start after a couple of months.”

The captain of Afghanistan Cricket team, Nawroz Mangal, said, “We have always got immense support from Pakistan Cricket board. But, we require the same kind of help from other test playing countries as well.”

“Cricket is a popular sport in Afghanistan. The people of our country love this sport, but, we don’t have the best of facilities available back home. We only have a couple of grounds and we don’t have any academy. So, we have come here to have better preparation for the world cup qualifying tournament.”

The director of PCB, Intikhab Alam, was also present in the press conference. He said, “It’s good that Afghanistan cricket team has shown faith in our security arrangements and has come here. We will provide them good facilities for training. They will train at NCA.”

COIN-TOSS IS BIG FACTOR

The captain of the Indian cricket team, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, has said that toss was a very important factor in the first ODI match between India and Pakistan and if the toss had gone in the favour of the Indian team, the result of the match could have been different. The Pakistani team defeated India in the first ODI match by 5 wickets.

Talking to the reporters in the press conference after the match, Dhoni said, “Toss played a very important part in the match. It was not easy to bat on that pitch in the morning. The ball was swinging around and the Pakistani bowlers were bowling a very good line. We needed to go through that first hour without losing too many wickets which we didn’t manage to do.”

“But, I am happy with the way we came back. When I went on to the field, I told Raina to be a bit cautious for a few overs as the ball was still moving. We put our heads down initially and once the ball got old and stopped moving around, we started playing the shots.”

When asked about the performance of the bowlers, Dhoni said, “The bowlers did reasonably well. They tried hard, but, the pitch had eased out in the second session. So, they didn’t get any help from the pitch. Also, there were not enough runs on the board. So, there was not much pressure on the Pakistani team. They kept their cool and chased down the total.”

Dhoni also hailed the debutant Bhuvneshwar Kumar who again gave Pakistan some early blows. Dhoni said, “Bhuvneshwar bowled accurately and didn’t give the batsmen much room to free his arms. He mixed his length and also bowled some very good short deliveries.”