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All star of the match

Noor Ali catches the eye

Noor Ali ensured Afghanistan were not rolled over  •  AFP

Noor Ali ensured Afghanistan were not rolled over  •  AFP

Afghanistan certainly weren't overawed, but struggled against short-pitched deliveries, losing five out of their eight wickets to bouncers. That notwithstanding, their opener Noor Ali, compact against the quicks and happy to use his feet against spinners, was their best batsman by a fair distance, helping them recover from 29 for 3 with a near run-a-ball fifty.
The Afghans have learnt most of their cricket in Pakistan, and Noor and Asghar Stanikzai, who scored 80 of the 115 runs, may well have been rescuing a Pakistan innings after a collapse. On the either end of their 68-run partnership, though, the Indian quicks used the bouncers well enough to secure two easy points.
Even though Afghanistan lost three wickets inside the Powerplay, Noor played sensibly. There were no needless fancy shots, no panic-stricken running as he went about rebuilding. He started with a couple of leg-glances against Praveen Kumar, but was more comfortable against spin, hitting Ravindra Jadeja over extra cover for four, and maintaining a strike-rate of over 100 throughout. The shot of supreme confidence came against Zaheer Khan: he danced down the track, made room against a short delivery and smashed him over extra cover.
Soon after he reached his fifty, though, Noor kick-started a collapse and Afghanistan came up short against formidable opponents.