Bangladesh v Afghanistan, Asia Cup, Fatullah March 1, 2014

Cricket will grow even more now - Stanikzai

Afghanistan have reached their greatest triumph in only their fourth game against a Full Member nation, something which they believe is in itself a massive achievement. So much so, that the country's president Hamid Karzai has already made the congratulatory call to the captain Mohammad Nabi.

"Everyone is happy back home," Nabi told ESPNcricinfo. "The president just called us to wish everyone. We are just too happy. The boys played brilliantly. Samiullah and Stanikzai were our winning partnership. They took us out of trouble and gave us a good score to defend."

Asghar Stanikzai, who made an unbeaten 90 to set up the 32-run win over Bangladesh, said that it will have a massive impact back in their homeland.

"It is a historical win for Afghanistan," Stanikzai said. "This is fourth time we played against a big nation. It is a huge achievement because I don't think any Associate member beat a Full Member in their fourth exposure.

"Every single victory counts big back home. It has a huge impact. Cricket will grow even more with this victory. It is a positive advocacy of cricket at home. We have achieved a lot in a short time. This will bring a lot of happiness and prosperity back home. Everyone will be celebrating back home."

Stanikzai described how he planned his innings, a fantastic effort under the circumstances as he and Man of the Match Samiullah Shenwari turned the tide from being down on 90 for 5 in the 27th over. It was a technically brilliant innings, and complemented well with Shenwari's freedom with the bat.

"My main job is to play as long as possible, play the 50 overs. The other batsmen play around me. The situation was not good for us.

"I had to stay and focus on each single ball. I scored 30-odd in 70-plus balls. I know my capability, I can make 70 off 30 balls. I had to take the game till the end and make it a bit longer. It paid off, and we made 100 in the last 10 overs."

When defending the total, Afghanistan attacked Bangladesh in front and then took four wickets in eight balls between the end of the 40th over to the start of the 42nd.

They dropped five catches, four off Nasir Hossain's bat during his 41, and one when Ziaur Rahman made a last-ditch attempt. Stanikzai joked about the catches, the first of which was dropped by him, but admitted that it was indeed a bit of nerves that affected him.

"We didn't want to beat Bangladesh so comprehensively, so we dropped a few catches (smiles)," Stanikzai said. "Jokes apart, it is a history making for every single boy. They are very excited and happy. That might be the case why one or two chances went down."

So how does Afghanistan celebrate? Team manager Shafiqullah Stanikzai said that it is by doing a traditional Pashto dance.

"Normally we celebrate with the Attan," the manager said. "It is our traditional dance and we do it quite a lot. I think Shapoor [Zadran] and [Mohammad] Shahzad are the party-makers for us and they will do the party."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

Comments