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Afghanistan have won the ACC Twenty20 Cup in emphatic style, beating the United Arab Emirates by 84 runs in the final in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
Urged on by a 1000-strong throng of supporters, the Afghans were led out of early trouble when 63 for 4 by allrounder Mohammad Nabi, whose 73 from 38 balls propelled the score to 196 for 8. A fifth-wicket partnership of 61 with Raees Ahmadzai steadied things to provide Nabi with a launching pad for his Man-of-the-Match innings which included nine sixes and four fours. A cameo from Samiullah Shenwari (29 from 14 balls) further boosted the visitors to their final. The veteran UAE offspinner Mohamed Tauqir nabbed 3 for 29 for the locals.
Sometime Afghanistan opening bowler Shahpoor Zadran perhaps consolidated his place in the team to wreck the UAE reply with three early wickets as the home side stuttered to 23 for 3. The opener Muhammad Iqbal lasted one over in which he hit 10 runs, including a six. There was just one partnership (43) of any substance in the UAE innings, between the captain Khurram Khan (34 off 18 balls) and Naeemuddin Aslam (37 from 30). Nabi took the last four wickets in nine balls to add another trophy to Afghanistan's mantlepiece.
Both sides had marched into the final with easy semi-final wins on Saturday, Afghanistan sweeping aside Kuwait by eight wickets, while the UAE routed Oman for 50 to cruise home by six wickets with almost 13 overs to spare.
Oman rebounded in the early game on Sunday to win the third place play-off against Kuwait by 23 runs.
ACC Twenty20 Cup Final:
Afghanistan beat United Arab Emirates by 84 runs
Afghanistan 196 for 8 (Mohammad Nabi 73, Moiz Shahid 2 for 36, Mohamed Tauqir 3-29)
UAE 112 (14.3 overs) (Kamran Khan 34, Naeemuddin Aslam 37; Shahpoor Zadran 3-28, Mohammad Nabi 4-7)
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Senior sub-editor While teachers in high school droned on about Fukuyama and communism, young Jamie's mind tended to wander to Old Trafford and the MCG. Subsequently, having spent six years in the States - studying Political Science, then working for an insurance company - and having failed miserably at winning any cricket converts, he moved back to India. No such problem in Bangalore, where he can endlessly pontificate on a chinaman who turned it around with a flipper, and why Ricky Ponting is such a good hooker. These days he divides his time between playing office cricket and constant replenishments at one of the city's many pubs.