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Mohammad Isam in Chittagong
March 18, 2014
Hong Kong coach Charlie Burke summed up Afghanistan's outlook perfectly: "They remained calm. They showed how good a side they are." So composed was the 154-run chase that even the frivolity of Mohammad Shahzad was well controlled as Afghanistan finally registered their first World T20 win in their third appearance in the competition.
The soft-spoken Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi praised Shahzad, having been disappointed by the chaotic opener for falling off the first ball in the Bangladesh game.
"The main role of Shahzad is to play for the first 6-8 overs," Nabi said. "He's that kind of batsman, a strokeplayer and he got a score on the board."
The seven-wicket win came mostly on the back of Shahzad's bat, as he made his fifth Twenty20 international fifty and emerged from a rut of low scores. Although Shahzad has tried to go after the bowlers from very early, here he had to save his aggressive streak for later in the innings.
He did hit five boundaries within the Powerplay overs, and although they were the usual forcing shots down the ground and through the covers, he was batting on a respectably steady 24 off 19 balls. He slowed down further and was on 29 off 30 balls in the tenth over. Afghanistan too looked a little off the pace at that stage.
Shahzad immediately blasted Nizakhat Khan for two sixes in the tenth over itself, and just after reaching his fifty treated the half-filled Chittagong crowd to a helicopter shot over midwicket. That shot announced Afghanistan's change of course, and they finished the game in the next 20-odd minutes.
Burke later said that dropped catches cost Hong Kong dearly, particularly when Aizaz Khan dropped a sitter in the sixth over. "You drop someone that goes on and makes a good score it really hurts you and they chased really well," Burke said. "To miss that run-out that we should have easily got and two dropped catches, really hurts you.
"We haven't done the basics well under pressure. It got to us and that showed with our fielding tonight. We performed a lot better than we did the other night but we've still got plenty to work on, there are plenty of positives to take out of it as well but we haven't performed anywhere near where we pride ourselves on."
Nabi meanwhile was just happy Afghanistan remained at par with Bangladesh and Nepal. He said the win gave the team a timely lift.
"Every match is important to win," said Nabi. "Bangladesh was an important game, we lost. We'll try and win both games. It was good win for confidence."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Mohammad Isam
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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