Pakistan v Afghanistan, one-off ODI, Sharjah February 10, 2012

Even in defeat, a powerful statement

There was no upset in Sharjah as Afghanistan were comfortably beaten, but they did enough to show they deserve more chances at the top level
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If anyone feared that Afghanistan might wilt in the spotlight when they stepped up to the bigger stage, their concerns were soon dispelled in Sharjah. True, Afghanistan did not win their first ODI against a Full member nation. But they were not out of their depth, either. They showed that, with a bit more experience and a bit more help, they could be a major force in world cricket. Perhaps more importantly, Afghanistan did the cause of Affiliate and Associate cricket the power of good with a performance that showed that good quality cricket extends far beyond the ten Test-playing nations.

The defining moment of this encounter came within the first hour. Saeed Ajmal, the scourge of England - the No.1 rated Test team, remember - was called into the attack. While some players - some nations - might have taken a cautious approach to the challenge of facing one of the world's great spinners, caution is not the Afghanistan way.

Instead Mohammad Shahzad, a pugnacious cricketer somewhat in the mould - physically and mentally - of Arjuna Ranatunga, produced an audacious reverse-sweep and carted Ajmal's third delivery over the cover boundary for six. It was a stroke that spoke volumes for the fearlessness of his side and exemplified their positive approach. It was also in stark contrast to the timidity shown by England against the same bowler in their recently concluded Test series.

It was the moment that summed up the match and, for that, matter Afghanistan cricket. Some teams might have chosen to ease their way into such a high-profile encounter, but not Afghanistan. Despite being the first Affiliate nation - that is a nation on the third tier of ICC membership - to play an ODI against one of the Test-playing nations, they elected to bat and, within the opening overs, waged an audacious assault upon the Pakistan bowling that saw respected international bowler Umar Gul thrashed for a six back over his head and Wahab Riaz plundered for three fours in succession. Ajmal, used to running through England with unbecoming ease, went wicketless.

We should have known that the pressure of this occasion would not bother the Afghan team. After dealing with war and displacement, the bustle of sporting contest holds few fears. As Keith Miller, Australian cricketer and war time bomber pilot so memorably put it: "pressure is a Messerschmitt up your arse; playing cricket is not."

It would be hard to exaggerate how important cricket is to the people of Afghanistan, though. In a recent history littered with division and despair, the sport has unified the nation as perhaps nothing has before. A minister in the Afghanistan government suggested that as many as 80% of Afghans, both living at home and abroad, followed this game. In a country that has experienced more than its fair share of grief, cricket has brought joy. There will surely be more to come, too.

In the end it took contributions from a pair of vastly experienced international cricketers to defeat them. Younis Khan, with a high class innings, and Shahid Afridi, with an excellent display of bowling, ensured that Pakistan were not to stumble.

It would be hard to exaggerate how important cricket is to the people of Afghanistan, though. In a recent history littered with division and despair, the sport has unified the nation as perhaps nothing has before

Afghanistan are far from the first side to fall victim to Afridi's mixture of top-spin, googlies and out-right pace. Muttiah Muralitharan is now the only spinner to have taken more than Afridi's 338 ODI wickets. This was the eighth five-wicket haul of Afridi's ODI career. Only Brett Lee, Murali and Waqar Younis have taken more and, after the game, when Misbah-ul-Haq hailed Afridi as one of the "best one-day bowlers in the world" it was hard to disagree. Younis Khan passed Viv Richards' ODI run tally in this game, too. It is no disgrace to be beaten by a side containing such players.

There were, however, numerous tell-tail signs of inexperience in the Afghanistan performance. The enterprising sixth-wicket stand between Samiullah Shenwari and Mohammad Nabi was ended when the latter, batting very well indeed, let his enthusiasm get the better of him and was run out after backing up too far. Later Dawlat Zadran followed a no-ball with a slower ball so obvious that Asad Shafiq might have had time to read a book before it reached him. He pulled it for four with something bordering on disdain. Four overthrows gifted via a wild and unnecessary throw and a few dropped half-chances did not help, either.

But such flaws are inevitable in a side as raw as this. With more exposure to this level, they will surely improve. This was a first step. And, as first steps go, it was better than most could reasonably have expected. Pakistan won with seven wickets and 77 balls to spare. It will be no surprise if they beat England by such margins, either.

And remember, Afghanistan were without their top strike bowler. Hamid Hassan injured his knee while fielding for the Associate and Affiliate XI team that played against England at the start of their tour of the UAE - he was unable to stop after pursuing a ball to the boundary; a typical example of his enthusiasm - and required minor surgery. It is anticipated that he should be fit for the World T20 qualifiers to be played in the UAE next month.

Where next for Afghanistan in ODI cricket? They play two more ODIs against the Netherlands at the end of March, before travelling to Ireland for two more. At present, there are no more games scheduled against Full Member nations, though ESPNcricinfo understands that talks are on-going with Bangladesh and, as Tim Anderson, the ICC's global development officer, puts it, this match against Pakistan will be "the first of many" games between the sides. Afghanistan are also taking part in the World T20 qualifying tournament in the UAE next month.

Their potential - and the potential of Associate and Affiliate cricket - should not be doubted. It will surely have escaped the attention of few that, while this game attracted a full house of 14,000 spectators, the Tests series between Pakistan and the No. 1 rated Test team, England, was, on the whole, played in front largely deserted stadiums. In the longer term, the ICC and leading Test nations may need the Associate and Affiliate as much as the affiliates and associates need the ICC now.

This match should also have served as an incentive to other nations. If Afghanistan, divided by war for decades, can achieve so much so fast, why is progress so minimal in the USA, for example? As Anderson says, if USA had the governance and administration of Ireland and the raw talent and enthusiasm of Afghanistan, their development would be rapid. The promise of elections in USA cricket next month should be the stepping stone to more accountability and more progress.

"We want to pay special thanks to Pakistan Cricket Board for giving us this opportunity," Nawroz Mangal, the Afghanistan captain said afterwards. "Now we request that the ICC present us with similar chances to play against other experienced sides. If we play against them, we will learn."

Mangal suggested the run-out of Nabi was the crucial moment of the match and suggested that, had he been able to bat for another eight overs, Afghanistan would have achieved their target of a score of between 240 and 250.

"There are lots of teams out there watching this," Anderson said. "And it will show them that, if Afghanistan can do it, so can they. Just walking into the stadium made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Afghanistan are flying the flag of Affiliate cricket. They are showing the huge potential that exists beyond the Test nations."

Pakistan, meanwhile, move on to Abu Dhabi where they will face England in the first of four ODIs on Monday. They have now won their last seven ODIs and 13 of their last 14. It remains to be seen whether England can test them any more than Afghanistan.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on February 13, 2012, 17:10 GMT

    It was really amazing game between Afghanistan and Pakistan; Afghanistan played very well, some mistakes which afghan player did there is tow rezones first one is less experience and the other one is the ACB miss management. The ACB must focus on Afghan Cricket they must put Cricket first in them goals. We hope that the ICC arrange more matches for Afghanistan with the test countries.

  • on February 13, 2012, 10:52 GMT

    I think it was a great chance for the Afghan team and thanks to PCB for the support, i hope the afghan team learn form the experience. ODI is not just about playing irresponsible shots, it was entertaining as well as irresponsible from the Afghan batsmen.

  • cricketfan99 on February 13, 2012, 8:56 GMT

    it was good performance by afghan players. as usuall thier bowlers is the soul of the team, batting has always been a problem, maybe cause thier batsman is not up to the chellange, actu i do like the team but i would like to see new fresh bating side, new young guys, that have long futures. if it was up to me i would cut out three batsman already in this team, like Mangal, Sediq, and one or two more batsman. these guys may have done well for afghan cricket in the past, but now its time to make way for younger talented batsman. hope Hamid hassan return soon, !!

  • Malti65 on February 12, 2012, 8:43 GMT

    Good Article. The Afghanistan team can improve with time and experience.

  • MaxG9 on February 12, 2012, 6:20 GMT

    First of all congratulations to the Afghans for their spirited performance. Second, well done to the PCB for agreeing to give a fixture & encourage this talented but inexperienced team. I have been a very interested follower of Afghan cricket & their amazing journey so far, in such a short period of time (less than 4 years).

    All cricket boards around the World & the ICC should be encouraged to give regular fixtures to the Afghans as well as to the Irish & Dutch teams. There is no doubt that such teams will improve the more they play with full member nations. At least in the T20 & 50 over formats at first.

    I also very sincerely believe that their (Afghanistan & Ireland) progress will be faster in the shorter versions of the game than Zimbabwe & Bangladesh. Let these teams not follow the example of Kenya who have dropped off dramatically after showing much promise. ICC please note & try to avoid same mistakes.

    Very best wishes again to these promising Associates/Affiliates.

  • on February 11, 2012, 20:22 GMT

    What amazing display of enthusiasm and courage. Salute to Team Afghanistan. The fearlessness, and such raw talent combination was better then most, far entertaining. Congratulations, Love from Pakistan.

  • on February 11, 2012, 18:46 GMT

    Afghanistan has welldone in this game,however afghanistan didn,t win but they were v. good. Pakistan has more experience & played alot of ODIs ,while afghanistan is not even having a coach. They r having a good future.

  • Vikasbhalla on February 11, 2012, 17:51 GMT

    I am a die hard Pakistani Cricket fan but somehow I did not feel bad to see how Afghan Lions thrashed our bowlers all over the ground, special mention to that reverse sweep six which I have never seen before..... I wonder which team our pathan brothers support, Pakistan or Afghanistan... Would be fund seeing Younus, Afridi and Umar Gul playing for Afghan team.......

  • on February 11, 2012, 17:30 GMT

    Pakistan supports Afghanistan to become a test playing country. Come on guys! Well done!

  • on February 11, 2012, 16:43 GMT

    We All Afghanistan proud that our team showed their talent and they played well that was outstanding. but few mistakes during the fielding which, i really don't like such kind of mistakes during an international match. it caused to be beaten our team . it's all right that they played better than England in this match. hope for their future performances and playing well.//

    Azimi Basir One of the Cricket fan of Afghanistan.

  • on February 13, 2012, 17:10 GMT

    It was really amazing game between Afghanistan and Pakistan; Afghanistan played very well, some mistakes which afghan player did there is tow rezones first one is less experience and the other one is the ACB miss management. The ACB must focus on Afghan Cricket they must put Cricket first in them goals. We hope that the ICC arrange more matches for Afghanistan with the test countries.

  • on February 13, 2012, 10:52 GMT

    I think it was a great chance for the Afghan team and thanks to PCB for the support, i hope the afghan team learn form the experience. ODI is not just about playing irresponsible shots, it was entertaining as well as irresponsible from the Afghan batsmen.

  • cricketfan99 on February 13, 2012, 8:56 GMT

    it was good performance by afghan players. as usuall thier bowlers is the soul of the team, batting has always been a problem, maybe cause thier batsman is not up to the chellange, actu i do like the team but i would like to see new fresh bating side, new young guys, that have long futures. if it was up to me i would cut out three batsman already in this team, like Mangal, Sediq, and one or two more batsman. these guys may have done well for afghan cricket in the past, but now its time to make way for younger talented batsman. hope Hamid hassan return soon, !!

  • Malti65 on February 12, 2012, 8:43 GMT

    Good Article. The Afghanistan team can improve with time and experience.

  • MaxG9 on February 12, 2012, 6:20 GMT

    First of all congratulations to the Afghans for their spirited performance. Second, well done to the PCB for agreeing to give a fixture & encourage this talented but inexperienced team. I have been a very interested follower of Afghan cricket & their amazing journey so far, in such a short period of time (less than 4 years).

    All cricket boards around the World & the ICC should be encouraged to give regular fixtures to the Afghans as well as to the Irish & Dutch teams. There is no doubt that such teams will improve the more they play with full member nations. At least in the T20 & 50 over formats at first.

    I also very sincerely believe that their (Afghanistan & Ireland) progress will be faster in the shorter versions of the game than Zimbabwe & Bangladesh. Let these teams not follow the example of Kenya who have dropped off dramatically after showing much promise. ICC please note & try to avoid same mistakes.

    Very best wishes again to these promising Associates/Affiliates.

  • on February 11, 2012, 20:22 GMT

    What amazing display of enthusiasm and courage. Salute to Team Afghanistan. The fearlessness, and such raw talent combination was better then most, far entertaining. Congratulations, Love from Pakistan.

  • on February 11, 2012, 18:46 GMT

    Afghanistan has welldone in this game,however afghanistan didn,t win but they were v. good. Pakistan has more experience & played alot of ODIs ,while afghanistan is not even having a coach. They r having a good future.

  • Vikasbhalla on February 11, 2012, 17:51 GMT

    I am a die hard Pakistani Cricket fan but somehow I did not feel bad to see how Afghan Lions thrashed our bowlers all over the ground, special mention to that reverse sweep six which I have never seen before..... I wonder which team our pathan brothers support, Pakistan or Afghanistan... Would be fund seeing Younus, Afridi and Umar Gul playing for Afghan team.......

  • on February 11, 2012, 17:30 GMT

    Pakistan supports Afghanistan to become a test playing country. Come on guys! Well done!

  • on February 11, 2012, 16:43 GMT

    We All Afghanistan proud that our team showed their talent and they played well that was outstanding. but few mistakes during the fielding which, i really don't like such kind of mistakes during an international match. it caused to be beaten our team . it's all right that they played better than England in this match. hope for their future performances and playing well.//

    Azimi Basir One of the Cricket fan of Afghanistan.

  • alizafar_1108 on February 11, 2012, 14:52 GMT

    Very well played Afghanistan,they are much better than Bangladesh as far as fear is concern,they made pakistan to fight for every single run after two early wickets, it was a very interesting contest.If Afgahnis can get better coach like Waqar or Waseem believe me in next 5 years they can be very very tough to beat.I am a Pakistani,but the way Afghanis has played,I would love to see them playing with other big teams and winning.This team will get the experience as they play more and more,one thing is for sure that there will be big contest between Bangladesh and Afghanistan when they play in one day internationals.

    Well done Afghanistan , keep it up.

  • igorolman on February 11, 2012, 13:18 GMT

    When you think of the limp performances of Associates such as Kenya and Canada at the World Cup, this was a very spirited performance by the Afghans. I hope they get a lot more exposure to the big boys!

  • on February 11, 2012, 12:56 GMT

    It has been a very entertaining game of cricket in the recent history. Thanks for the Pakistan team to accommodate this game - Hope the Asians will now have the Loins (Afghanistan) along side with Pakistan, Srilanka and India teams.

  • puneet_usa on February 11, 2012, 11:30 GMT

    I would write to ICC and BCCI personally to encourage the Afghan Cricketers in playing more competitive cricket and may be appoint a panel to foresee their progress I would also appreciate that if more people would get together and write to the tops boards around the world for a master plan to flourish this promising Afghan Cricket Team- I don't see no reason why Indian Sub-continent cannot become "Cricket's Power House" in coming years with matured teams like India,Pakisatan and Sri Lanka and upcoming team Bangladesh and now new comer Afghanistan...Good Luck and Wishes to this young and gutsy cricket nation....Cheers.

  • ClownAND2Thugs on February 11, 2012, 11:22 GMT

    Great for Afghan cricket, and great for world cricket to see pakistan give afghanistan team a chance. thank you pakistan cricket team

  • on February 11, 2012, 11:14 GMT

    Afghanistan is Cinderella story of Cricket Bravo Afghanistan. They are fearless competitors. , only thing they lack is experience. They have done whatever they could themselves and world cannot deny they have real talent. Historically Pathans cricketers are great fighters. Defeat is not in their dictionary. Look at Afridi, Yunis Khan, Imran Khan, Irfan Pathan, Yusuf Pathan, Majid Khan: all of these are Pathans and most fierce fighters in the world of cricket. Now the ball in ICC court, they have the main responsibility to schedule at least one international ODI and one Twenty20 over match with Afganistan.; they are the darling of the world. Generous sports writers of England and Pakistan, two great cricketing nations are always behind them. Then ICC should take advice from them and bring them out. World is hungry for a new product. A new baby star has born. What is good for Afghan nation is good for the world. They have suffered enough.

  • nzcricket174 on February 11, 2012, 11:07 GMT

    I have to say it was very noble of Pakistan give them a game. A lot of boards are scared for their team to play against lower nations as they fear the embarrassment of a loss.

  • on February 11, 2012, 11:00 GMT

    Well done Afghanistan, best wishes for the future also. I've been following the rise of you guys from over here in NZ and hope to see you boys tour here sometime soon. Make your country proud!

  • deconstruct on February 11, 2012, 10:01 GMT

    First, congratulations to the Afghan team and their supporters for putting up a brave show against a full strength Pakistan side. In my opinion, if Ireland and Afghanistan are given test status, they would prove themselves much better than Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. At the same time, please give credit to Pakistan. Playing an affiliate or associate member team is a no-win situation for a top team. If you win, its no big deal, but if you lose, all hell breaks lose. So its always a bit of risk taking on such sides, but Pakistan - more than any other test side in the world, has always supported new teams right from Sri Lanka to Bangladesh, and now Afghanistan.

  • Matiullah2016 on February 11, 2012, 9:53 GMT

    Great Actually Afghanistan hit 6 sixes and Pakistan just 2 sixes, I never see a huge reverse sweep six of Mohammad shehzad against world NO.1 bowler Saed Ajmal , I think it was the biggest six in reverse sweeps , I really enjoy that game , best of luck AFGHANISTAN

  • khurramsch on February 11, 2012, 9:41 GMT

    yes they showed some character. i think icc should provide more chances for these teams like afghan & ireland to play full members. there is a window in future program for ipl. pak is not part of ipl, england only couple of players, aus, sa, wi, nz also few players. so these small teams can play internationla games with big teams during that window. ok big teams may not be 100% strength but 7/8 international players will give small teams enough experience instead of playing A teams or others. meanwhile afghan should eneter in pak domestic system.

  • on February 11, 2012, 8:22 GMT

    Afghanistan did well against Pakistan i didnt see the sweep six of Mohammad Shazad in my life i saw alot of games of cricket but didnt see that big sweep six on ajmal we wish and icc should suport afghan team for more top team like to play with Aisa cup

  • on February 11, 2012, 8:20 GMT

    @ Ahmad Fraydun Safi : Man hold your emotions. Did you even understand that Pakistan was just playing casually after a stiff test series against England ? Afghanistan was not so hopeless as expected but saying that only Afridi was the difference is pure ignorance. Had there been another ODI, Pak would had thrashed Afghanistan team badly and in cricket, on the day, its only one player who makes the difference while the others chip in to support his cause whether in batting or bowling. Something to learn for you guys for now and learn to be humble. Good luck to Afghan team for their future.

  • AsifAbbasi on February 11, 2012, 8:15 GMT

    As a pakistan, and considering Afghanistan as our brothers, I would congratulate them on a splendid effort... They played extremely well..

    Such are the bonds between the two nations, that the Pakhtoons didn't know whether to support Pakistan or Afghanistan... :)

  • Pakmann on February 11, 2012, 8:09 GMT

    As a Pakistani, despite the high quality cricket that was played, personally I did not find the match so thrilling. Because it was difficult to decide who I was supporting!! Well played everyone!

  • on February 11, 2012, 7:57 GMT

    Welcome and many congratulations Afghanistan. It is nice to have you integrated in international sports. We Pakistanis have tried whatever possible to do their bit.

  • on February 11, 2012, 7:55 GMT

    Thank you 777aditya for supporting this team.

  • on February 11, 2012, 7:25 GMT

    Afghanistan did awesome job... ICC Should ban Bangladesh and give change to Afghanista

  • on February 11, 2012, 7:16 GMT

    i would go as far as saying Afghanistan is going to be Brasil of cricket. we Pakistan should stop running behind teams like India to play us and rather invite afgahn lions & teams like uae to play in our country , i salute the afgahan team , keep up the good work , we pakistanis are always behind you . go for kill,,,

  • on February 11, 2012, 6:34 GMT

    Brilliant Afghanistan! You belong to this place.International cricket would be more interesting with you here.....May you achieve a lot more.....

  • on February 11, 2012, 6:28 GMT

    i can bet if this afghanistan team will play a test match against zim or bd , they will give a very tough time and may have won.....

  • Kazzmiii on February 11, 2012, 6:13 GMT

    @ Ahmad Fraydun Safi, haha come on man you are saying hamid hasan is as good as afridi.. are you kidding us? pakistan have 3 bowlers in top 10 so yea not all can take wickets as there are only 10...and regarding saeed ajmal 10-1-32-0 is not bad at all when you have afridi and gul at the other end taking wickets!!!

  • on February 11, 2012, 5:51 GMT

    I found three outstanding attributes in the Afghan Team. They were not intimidates. The way they played Saeed Ajmal, they could coach English Batsmen, specially Ian Bell and Kevin Petersen. Afghan Fast Bowlers are better than that of Bangladesh, India and Zimbabwe. I believe they have the capability to bowl out a team twice in a 5-dayer. They were never down, even when it became apparent that they would lose big, I saw energy and smile. They fought until the end. I see great prospects for the Afghan Team. Pakistan should be more generous and invite them to play in Pakistan against Pakistan A or a mixture of A and senior team. A strong Afghan Team will add value to Cricket, because they play with gusto and passion.

  • on February 11, 2012, 5:24 GMT

    To be honest the only difference in Afghanistan and Pakistan's bowling was SHAHID AFRIDI which could be equaled by presence of HAMID HASSAN , without AFRIDI the bowling level was EQUAL,,, BUT IN batting side both teams had their own BANGS where PAKISTAN had higher hand in that,,, AM NOT SAD WITH OUR LOSS BUT AM HAPPY WITH OUR PERFORMANCE THAT WE TRIED OUR LEVEL BEST WITHOUT FEAR ,, WE FOUGHT UP TO THE LAST BALL PROOOOOD TOOO BEEE AFGHAAAAAN LONG LIVE AFGHANISTAN

  • Vikasbhalla on February 11, 2012, 4:58 GMT

    My Afghan brothers have shown that they are a team of Lions.... Loved the way their batsmen played our bowlers.

  • on February 11, 2012, 4:11 GMT

    Its good to see Afghans playing like this but all this talk of fearless, spirited and bla bla bla is unrealistic. Afghans had nothing to loose and their approach did fetch some runs but I am afraid this will never help them attain that patience and composure needed at the top.

  • AfghanIdeal on February 11, 2012, 4:10 GMT

    HATS OFF to AFGHAN Side... they really showed thier presence on the stage... hitting LArge SIXES over some respected bowlers of Cricket...GUl, Afridi and especiallay AJMAL... it was a stunning shot.... and even RAMIZ RAJA said that i ve never seen this kinda shot in Sharjah's 200 matches....

    SALUTE TO AFGHANSSS

  • prashkannam on February 11, 2012, 3:11 GMT

    AFGHANS ARE A WARRIOR TRIBE AND AM SURE THEIR FIGHTING SPIRIT IS IN THEIR BLOOD...SO BANGLADESH ZIM....BE PREPARED FOR A THRASHING FROM THIS UNIT.!!!

  • prashkannam on February 11, 2012, 3:09 GMT

    CONGRATS...AFGHAN CRICKET TEAM...BEING AN INDIAN AM PROUD OF U OF WHAT UR TEAM HAS ACHEIEVED....THIS FAR.....THEY HAVE TALENTED FAST BOWLERS ...AND AM SURE IF ENGLAND WERE TO PLAY AGAINST THIS AFGHAN TEAM....ENGLAND WOULD HAVE BEEEN THRASHED...AS THEIR BOWLING UNIT LOOKS PROMISING!!

  • on February 11, 2012, 2:43 GMT

    it was a great play from afghanistan but unlucky afghanistan lose the game and as a afghani thanks to pakistan cricket board to give chance for afghan team or also for all afghans to watch their team on tv .

  • on February 11, 2012, 2:30 GMT

    Afghanistan did better than one would expect from Bangladesh or Zimbabwe for example or England for that matter on this particular tour. Obviously they are raw but you dont need to be an expert to realize that they have potential to be a solid Test playing nation. With more games against top level sides; this Afghan team should be able to displace either Zimbabwe or Bangladesh who by all accounts are NOT a test playing nation or have shown the potential to be.

  • 777aditya on February 11, 2012, 2:24 GMT

    Believe it or not, many Indians were hooked on to the match out of curiosity. But for the inexperience showed by the Afghanistan team in over attacking the Pakistan bowlers and losing wickets at crucial moments of the game, perhaps 260-270 was not out of reach. This team really showed the gumption though. Bowlers bowling 140 kmph, decent fielding unit, and attacking batsmen. I think they should gain entry in T20s first and gradually be taken to the next 2 levels. Even participating in IPL, Big Bash, and T20s in England will give this team good exposure. ICC must appoint someone to keep a close eye on their progress and make sure we do not lose these stars in the making. My gut feeling is that this team can be a good test team as well. THEY DESERVE MANY MORE CHANCES LIKE ZIMBABWE AND BANGLADESH.

  • LillianThomson on February 11, 2012, 2:12 GMT

    It strikes me that the time is coming when there should be two six team divisions playing Test cricket in a league format over 24 months , with 2 points for a home series win, 1 for a home draw, 4 for an away series win, 2 for an away series draw and nothing for a defeat. There would also be 3 points for a neutral venue series win, and 2 points for a neutral venue draw. The Premier League would currently be 1 Pakistan, 2 England, 3 South Africa, 4 Australia, 5 Sri Lanka and 6 India, with the Second Division containing West Indies, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Ireland and Afghanistan. BUT there would be automatic promotion and relegation of two teams based on the last 2 years of cricket, so India and Sri Lanka would now on merit be relegated to the Second Division with West Indies and New Zealand replacing them.

  • Hold_the_line on February 11, 2012, 1:48 GMT

    For Afghanistan to make a reasonable total (nearly 200) against the same bowlers who recently demolished the England side in a 3-0 test series whitewash is an amazing statement. Well done to these Afghan players, you have some real talent and courage to perform so well at the top level in your first ever ODI.

  • on February 11, 2012, 0:39 GMT

    Afghanistan's performance is a wake-up call for Bangladesh.

  • cricpolitics on February 11, 2012, 0:38 GMT

    Afghanistan did well being an associate however the comparison with England or for that matter with any other test playing nation would not be fair since Afghanistan had nothing to lose so there was no pressure on them. England had the pressure of being No 1 and they had everything to lose. Similarly Pakistan must have been under more pressure than Afghanistan in this match. Again Afghanistan did well but there is a long road ahead of them and it will be even tougher once they come out of an associate role.

  • RaMin90 on February 11, 2012, 0:01 GMT

    I was surprised that Afghanistan put up a fight against the in form Pakistan so credit to them. Afghanistan made Pakistan work hard for their win and should along with other teams such as Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands etc to get a chance against the full members. Im sure teams such as Zimbabwe and Bangladesh and possibly the West Indies and New Zealand will offer to play them at times so they can develop their game. Reading from this article, I can see that Bangladesh are willing to play Afghanistan later this year so that shows that Afghanistan are going in the right direction.

  • on February 10, 2012, 23:50 GMT

    a wonderful performance by the AFghan national cricket Team , they have proved that they can play with any team of the world and we hope that ICC gives them more chances to improve thier self , and inshalah they wil have a bright future ...

  • wc1992 on February 10, 2012, 22:37 GMT

    ALL should remember here that it was Pakistan who helped the Sir Lanka Bangladase and now Pakistan have big hand in gettng Afgan here ...................

  • Rahulbose on February 10, 2012, 22:36 GMT

    Well they are obviously better than Zim for sure.

  • on February 10, 2012, 22:23 GMT

    Umair khan; very good stated haha I have never seen Ajmal with that face haha not even when he was butchered by M. Hussey in that semi-final!!!

  • noplay on February 10, 2012, 22:04 GMT

    A wonderful assessment of Afghanistan's performance on another level. We expected Pakistan to win, but this display by Afghanistan sets the stage for a bright future.

  • KarachiKid on February 10, 2012, 22:02 GMT

    Another good one from George Diobell. I am a strong supporter of Irish and after this match, Afghan cricket team. I also think they are at least as competitive as Bangladesh and Zembabwe. If Bangladesh and Zembabwe can have automatic selection in limited over events, than there is no harm have two more to this list. As for test cricket, they will (including Bangladesh and Zembabwe) need to develop a first class system. Afgan and Bangladeshi teams can actually compete as one of the clubs in Pakistan domestic structure. This will be very beneficial for them.

  • on February 10, 2012, 21:40 GMT

    Congrats to Afghanistan for a bold inaugural match. The reverse sweep off Ajmal for 6 was priceless - as was Ajmal's expression after that hit :).

    225-250 was definitely on the cards and would have certainly stretched Pakistan batting a bit more.

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  • on February 10, 2012, 21:40 GMT

    Congrats to Afghanistan for a bold inaugural match. The reverse sweep off Ajmal for 6 was priceless - as was Ajmal's expression after that hit :).

    225-250 was definitely on the cards and would have certainly stretched Pakistan batting a bit more.

  • KarachiKid on February 10, 2012, 22:02 GMT

    Another good one from George Diobell. I am a strong supporter of Irish and after this match, Afghan cricket team. I also think they are at least as competitive as Bangladesh and Zembabwe. If Bangladesh and Zembabwe can have automatic selection in limited over events, than there is no harm have two more to this list. As for test cricket, they will (including Bangladesh and Zembabwe) need to develop a first class system. Afgan and Bangladeshi teams can actually compete as one of the clubs in Pakistan domestic structure. This will be very beneficial for them.

  • noplay on February 10, 2012, 22:04 GMT

    A wonderful assessment of Afghanistan's performance on another level. We expected Pakistan to win, but this display by Afghanistan sets the stage for a bright future.

  • on February 10, 2012, 22:23 GMT

    Umair khan; very good stated haha I have never seen Ajmal with that face haha not even when he was butchered by M. Hussey in that semi-final!!!

  • Rahulbose on February 10, 2012, 22:36 GMT

    Well they are obviously better than Zim for sure.

  • wc1992 on February 10, 2012, 22:37 GMT

    ALL should remember here that it was Pakistan who helped the Sir Lanka Bangladase and now Pakistan have big hand in gettng Afgan here ...................

  • on February 10, 2012, 23:50 GMT

    a wonderful performance by the AFghan national cricket Team , they have proved that they can play with any team of the world and we hope that ICC gives them more chances to improve thier self , and inshalah they wil have a bright future ...

  • RaMin90 on February 11, 2012, 0:01 GMT

    I was surprised that Afghanistan put up a fight against the in form Pakistan so credit to them. Afghanistan made Pakistan work hard for their win and should along with other teams such as Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands etc to get a chance against the full members. Im sure teams such as Zimbabwe and Bangladesh and possibly the West Indies and New Zealand will offer to play them at times so they can develop their game. Reading from this article, I can see that Bangladesh are willing to play Afghanistan later this year so that shows that Afghanistan are going in the right direction.

  • cricpolitics on February 11, 2012, 0:38 GMT

    Afghanistan did well being an associate however the comparison with England or for that matter with any other test playing nation would not be fair since Afghanistan had nothing to lose so there was no pressure on them. England had the pressure of being No 1 and they had everything to lose. Similarly Pakistan must have been under more pressure than Afghanistan in this match. Again Afghanistan did well but there is a long road ahead of them and it will be even tougher once they come out of an associate role.

  • on February 11, 2012, 0:39 GMT

    Afghanistan's performance is a wake-up call for Bangladesh.