Afghanistan v Hong Kong, World T20, Group A, Chittagong March 17, 2014

Reputations at stake for Afghanistan, Hong Kong


Match facts

March 18, 2014
Start time 1530 local (0930 GMT)

Big picture

The build-up was all about creating heroes but, after illusion-shattering defeats in their opening games, Afghanistan and Hong Kong must get back to the more prosaic business of preserving reputations and dignity. Neither is yet out of the competition but the fates would have to be remarkably capricious for one of them to top the group from here.

Afghanistan's warrior mentality has given them an edge in their bull run through the Associate game but that combustibility is becoming a weakness at the highest level, where temperament and technique are more closely scrutinised. Only once have they not been heavily beaten at the World T20 and four innings out of five have disintegrated before lasting 20 overs.

Their confrontational approach against Bangladesh - expressed most clearly in the moment of handbags between Dawlat Zadran and Shakib Al Hasan - backfired fairly spectacularly but they should not need to get quite so worked up for Hong Kong, a team they beat comfortably in the semi-final of last year's Asian Cricket Council T20 Cup. After the disappointment of Sunday, the prospect of a first World T20 win will perhaps lift the mood.

Hong Kong came to the tournament with little to lose but the importance of needing to acquit themselves, rather than just turn up, was etched on to Jamie Atkinson's face after defeat to Nepal. Atkinson, the captain, had talked up Hong Kong's chances after rattling Zimbabwe and Netherlands during the warm-ups. But their nerves were jangled under floodlights at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium as Nepal got the better of his young side.

They can certainly play better with the bat and their attack may tease more mistakes from a gung-ho Afghanistan. Defeat will end their participation but they will be aiming to leave the World Cup wanting more, not less.

Watch out for

At the last World T20, Gulbadin Naib smashed five fours and three sixes in a 32-ball 44 against England coming in at No. 8. Promoted to bat at first drop in Afghanistan's opening match here, he walked out to face the second ball of the tournament and ended up as the innings' top-scorer. His swashbuckling approach is always entertaining but, as with most of his team-mates, a little composure would not go amiss.

Allrounder Irfan Ahmed, Pakistan-born but who came through Hong Kong's age-group cricket, bowled with impressive discipline and control in the middle of the innings against Nepal before his figures were dented in the later stages. His night continued to go downhill when he made a golden duck opening the batting. He has a T20 hundred to his name and may prefer to face Afghanistan's quicks.

Team news

Afghanistan should enjoy the pitch in Chittagong more, having been somewhat bewildered by the amount of turn on offer for Bangladesh's spinners in Dhaka. Seamer Mirwais Ashraf could replace Aftab Alam and Najibullah Zadran may be preferred to Najeeb Tarakai, the opener who made his debut in the previous match.

Afghanistan 1 Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 2 Karim Sadiq, 3 Gulbadin Naib, 4 Nawroz Mangal, 5 Mohammad Nabi (capt), 6 Najibullah Zadran, 7 Shafiqullah, 8 Samiullah Shenwari, 9 Mirwais Ashraf, 10 Dawlat Zadran, 11 Shapoor Zadran

The main challenge for Hong Kong will be raising spirits. They have a full squad to pick from and will have to assess whose scars have healed best. The most likely change is to strengthen the batting by bringing in the veteran Munir Dar (who is currently banned from bowling) for Aizaz Khan.

Hong Kong 1 Irfan Ahmed, 2 Waqas Barkat, 3 Jamie Atkinson (capt & wk), 4 Babar Hayat, 5 Mark Chapma, 6 Nizakat Khan, 7 Munir Dar, 8 Tanwir Afzal, 9 Najeeb Amar, 10 Haseeb Amjad, 11 Nadeem Ahmed

Stats and trivia

  • Hong Kong will be playing just their second T20 international, to Afghanistan's 24th.
  • Samiullah Shenwari needs one wicket to overtake Hamid Hassan as his country's most successful bowler in T20Is.


"We will try our best to win both games with a good [run rate]. If Bangladesh lose one game, we might come back."
Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi concedes his team need a favour from elsewhere to reach the Super 10 stage.

"I say to the players all the time that you've got to soak everything up. It's not every day you get to play in a World T20 and play on such a big stage in front of cameras."
Hong Kong coach Charlie Burke wants his players to play without fear in their second game

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 18, 2014, 13:25 GMT

    Funny talking ...HK, AFG will play better cricket than Bangladesh. Is it a joke.

  • ESPN on March 18, 2014, 9:35 GMT

    Afg seems dominant to me.. But then they batted pathetic.. they have a fair chancy today to make up some mark.. HK has no strengths so far as seen in the tournament.. I reckon they'd hardly touch 100 or perhaps closer to it

  • Mizanur on March 18, 2014, 9:29 GMT

    I have seen both Nepal and Afghanistan play in this tournament. Under the present condition, if Bangladesh fail to advance next round, Nepal has more chances than Afghans. Nepal deserve respect.

  • Arif on March 18, 2014, 8:58 GMT

    Here is the comment from Mr. Nabi, AFG Capt.-" We will try our best to win both games with a good [run rate]. If Bangladesh lose one game, we might come back." Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi

    My question to the AFG and others that why he still running after BD. Is he thinks that BD will lose by Nepal or HK ? Is it mandatory to quote about BD every time ? Why Bangladesh lose to Nepal or HK ? Ans. me . This Afghans are thinking that they can beat BD every time. But this is not possible for always. Bangladesh showed them where their position is. Even AFG cricketers who are getting some money in playing from BD's local league and BPL, but they aren't totally think about that. I am very astonished to see the comments and think that how badly they r picturing Bangladesh Cricket team. Pls show the respect what they achieved, and how many days it takes to come. Yes AFG r a very good team but competing with BD and losing them evertime that will take very long time....

  • Rohan on March 18, 2014, 8:36 GMT

    Both teams esp. Afghanistan deserves to play international cricket with superior teams in comparison to non deserving Bdesh team. If teams like Zim, Afghanistan, HKK are given more chances, then they will certainly perform better than Bdesh.

  • Pierre on March 18, 2014, 8:14 GMT

    HK and Afghanistan let themselves down 48 hours ago in the T20 WC and were soundly beaten. Both these Associates have obstacles in advancing cricket at home.One has a Government and country beset by savage conflict and the other, HK, a team unsupported by an indifferent cricket family and a local HK Government who, unlike China, do not subscribe to sporting endeavour when there is no money in it, more so when that sport, at the highest level, involves non-Chinese.One feels for both cricket teams. 21st Century HK Civil servants happily sponsor Dragon Boat Racing but not cricket. Sadly for this HK team they have no visible support at this 2014 WC, not from their Government or indeed the HK cricket fraternity. Not a single HK supporter visible in the Stadium 2 nights ago. The HK team are flag bearers but HK could not care less.Money is the national anthem of HK. Good luck to both teams today.

  • Sultan on March 18, 2014, 7:19 GMT

    I am not Gonna blame Afghans team the Facility and the govt support which they have with that' its the Credit to Afghan guys that they have reached at this level' The Afghans shown Great talent' and the spirit more then other new Teams, but there Talent and Spirit is not gonna enough to beat the test playing nations' the re for the Govt and ABC also need to polish their talent' with International Coaching system and also the players Should learn quickly from this opportunities that they have today' and I after that' in few years' Afghans ill be the most Dangerous team in Cricket' Insha Allah

  • Zabih on March 18, 2014, 7:16 GMT

    For all those Afghanistan haters who post random comments without considering the history of Afghanistan Cricket!!! Before comparing the current strength of your team with Afghanistan's, compare the history, facilities, and opportunities of Afghanistan with those of yours. if Afghanistan is not performing well in one or two games it doesn't mean they are not worth it. they are improving and in the next 5 to 10 years they will be by far a better team than some of the test playing nations. just wait and see... Good Luck Afghanistan.

  • Dummy4 on March 18, 2014, 6:38 GMT

    All the best to Afghan team, but no offence, HK has a better chance of winning today. their batters are better than Afghans and if the pitch assists spin, HK will wipe out Afghanistan's chances.

  • Android on March 18, 2014, 5:34 GMT

    afghanistan have agood player but problem is managment so t 20 math why they dont take good player like noor ali and asgher

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