April 9, 2010

ACC Trophy

Afghanistan crowned ACC champions

Sahil Dutta

Tony Munro

Afghanistan has vindicated its raging favouritism for the ACC Trophy Elite title with an emphatic 95-run win over Nepal in the final in Kuwait City on Friday.

A mainly pro-Afghanistan crowd of about 5,000 cheered, banged drums and looked on as the two most passionately supported non-Test countries in Asia contested a final where the ball was dominant over the bat.

All-rounder Binod Das in for Mahaboob Alam was the only change for Nepal, while Afghanistan fielded the same team which beat Hong Kong in the semi-final.

After being sent in on a good batting track which suggested 250 was a par score, Afghanistan started slowly against tight Nepal bowling and fielding. Afghanistan were in early trouble when Noor Ali attempted a suicidal single to Gyanendra Malla who scored with a direct hit. Noor Ali run out for 5 - Afghanistan 1 for 14 after 5.4 overs. Two balls later Afghanistan were 2 for 14 when Mohammad Shahzad was caught behind to a length ball from Das. A period of consolidation followed as Karim Sadiq and captain Nowroz Mangal put on 25 runs in six overs before Nowroz was out. A shot off his legs was mistimed and Anil Mandal took a diving catch at leg - Afghanistan 3-39 and Nepal clearly on top.

Two partnerships then swung the game slightly back to Afghanistan. Karim Sadiq had been there since the start and combined with Mirwais Ashraf (59) for the fourth wicket before Ashraf was caught going for his third six. Afghanistan were 4 for 98 after 25 overs with the game evenly poised. A partnership of 97 in 103 balls between Raees Ahmadzai and Mohammad Nabi at least put Afghanistan in a position where they could look at providing their much vaunted bowlers with something to defend. Afghanistan's 224 all-out was slightly less than expected but a decent reward for a good Nepalese effort in the field. Binod Das's return of 3 for 35 off eight overs was an accurate reflection of good bowling. At this stage, the minority Nepalese contingent in the crowd had reason to feel confident.

Nepal started their innings comfortably enough reaching 16 after three overs. Paceman Mirwais Ashraf who had bowled several wides, had Mahesh Chhettri caught behind for 4 from 15 balls. Two overs later Anil Mandil (5 from 11 balls) was caught at slip to a delivery from Mirwais Ashraf - Nepal 18 for 2 after 5.5 overs and in need of a big partnership. The experienced Shakti Gauchan and Malla tried to consolidate when Gauchan (6 from 23) was induced into giving Nabi at slip a catch off Shahpour Zadran. Nepal were now 28 for 3 and the asking rate was increasing. Skipper Paras Khadka joined Malla and the pair steadily took the score 49 for 3. Malla in particular was batting well in what was obviously a pivotal partnership. Nabi, who has made a habit of playing the game-breaker for Afghanistan, had Khadka caught on his crease for a patient 11 from 30 balls. Sharad Vesawkar and Malla put on 25 off 24 balls when disaster struck. Attempting a quick single, Afghan 'keeper Mohammad Shahzad's throw to to the bowler beat Malla and Nepal were 74 for 5 from 23.3 overs. Although Vesawkar rallied with Das and Sanjam Regmi to add 40 late runs, it was inevitable the mainly Afghan crowd of around 5000 would be celebrating their first ACC Trophy Elite title. Nepal was all-out for 140 from 40 overs. Raees Ahmadzai won the Man-of-the-Match award for his crucial 52 from 64 balls as Afghanistan won by 96 runs.

At the Unity ground next door, Hong Kong held off a determined Malaysia to win the third/fourth place play-off match.

Batting first after winning the toss fifties for Roy Lamsam, Ilyas Gul and Nizakat Khan helped Hong Kong recover from 4 for 2 to post 251 from the 50 overs. It was a tumultuous start for Hong Kong, losing Nasir Hameed and Hussain Butt within the first five overs. A 110-run third wicket partnership steadied the ship with Lamsam patiently working his way to 50 off 114 balls. He eventually fell to Hassan Ghulam but the relief was short lives for Malaysia as Khan came in and smashed an unbeaten 72 from 46 balls. Gul was run out for 72 but some lusty hitting from Najeeb Amar carried the total past 250.

Malaysia had done well to restrict Hong Kong to a manageable score and they looked in total control when the openers put on 77 for the first wicket. Faris Almas stroked the ball nicely on his way to 42 but his wicket, off the bowling of Amar, ushered a mini-collapse as Malaysia slipped to 103 for 3. Rakesh Madhavan was still going sublimely and found useful support from Suresh Navaratnam (22) and Shafiq Sharif (24) on his way to 129 off 137 balls, but it wasn’t quite enough as they finished seven runs short.

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Sahil Dutta is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Navin Shretha on (August 15, 2010, 4:06 GMT)

Nepal should learn from Afghanistan.They really deserve it but its not the end of cricket for Nepali team.I will always support for Nepal.Afghanistan have really uplift their cricket talent within a short period of time.

Posted by Alex paul on (July 31, 2010, 11:58 GMT)

Nice to watch d progress of afghan team nw a days.. They really deserve dis win.. Cmmn icc nw giv dem sum opertunities to play first clas matches against atleast A sides frm test nations, so that dey can fit in d boots of 12th test nation aftr ireland.. Realy a wrld clas team line up.. Hope we cn see hamid nd noor in 2011 ipl seasn.. Back u afghan.. only aftr d men in blue ;) Last bt not d least hard luck dis time nepal, try to make it next time..

Alex, India

Posted by sayed jan saeed on (May 12, 2010, 9:10 GMT)

i like the improvement of afghanistan team . it was very nice to see them between the world class team .. thanx

Posted by aman on (May 1, 2010, 10:32 GMT)

hey mashal dont be so excited nd if u r not aware then undrstnd it now ur fckn afghani team cant beat d men in blue ie d indian team nd u sabawoon bravery is not needed in cricket the mst imprtnt thing that is rqurd in cricket is skills nd tactics that ur fckn team hasnt got

Posted by aman on (May 1, 2010, 10:30 GMT)

hey mashal dont be so excited nd if u r not aware then undrstnd it now ur fckn afghani team cant beat d men in blue ie d indian team

Posted by rajiv karna,janakpur,nepal on (May 1, 2010, 4:53 GMT)

thanks,to nepal team 4 reach in final and wish 2 best of luck in future.

Posted by sabawoon on (April 24, 2010, 14:47 GMT)

excellent afghanistan cricket team evey one know that afghan people r brave ........ and you will see ashish that we will beat india too in 20 twenty match. hp afghan win world 20twenty .

Posted by bal krishna parajuli on (April 22, 2010, 9:39 GMT)

always the same problem with Nepal, the batting fails again. Anyway the cricket enthusiasm is never over...we ll again meet them at final and see....... for now full credits for Afghanistan bal krishna form kathmandu

Posted by MONIR AHMAD on (April 22, 2010, 8:41 GMT)

TAHNKS ALL FOR POSTING YOUR NICE COMMENTS ABOUT AFGHAN CRICKET TEAM AND AFGHANISTAN.

Posted by Ehssan on (April 22, 2010, 5:16 GMT)

Aashish, never give negative feedbacks on anytime, each could be best. And remember that cricket is very new in Afghanistan and this is accepted by Cricket World Council, that Afghan are moving very fast.

Anyway, Congratulations for all Afghans. We pray for Almighty Allah, that Afghans will return homeland with great success from T20 worldcup in WI.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sahil Dutta
Assistant editor Sahil Dutta grew up supporting England during the 90s. Despite this, he still enjoys the game. His unrequited passions for Graeme Hick and, in latter years, Vikram Solanki gave him a stoicism that guided him through an Economics degree and a stint working at the European Parliament. He maintains the purest love for Tests and the whims of legspin bowling and still harbours hope that he could be the answer to England's long search for a mystery spinner. As it is, his most exciting cricketing experience was planning a trip to Australia for the 2006-07 Ashes with two utterly indifferent friends. Unfortunately his lung collapsed shortly before his planned departure and the pair were left to wander around from Test to Test, unprepared and clueless. Any comparisons with England are far too obvious to make. That cancelled holiday inspired an Ashes blog which led, via some tea-making at the Wisden Cricketer, to the ESPNcricinfo towers.

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