T20 World Cup: Thumping win gives Afghan the perfect swansong

Asghar Afghan of Afghanistan gets a guard of honour after his final innings on Sunday. (ANI)
Asghar Afghan of Afghanistan gets a guard of honour after his final innings on Sunday. (ANI)

Abu Dhabi - Opting to bat first, Afghanistan made 160 for five. Namibia, in reply, made only 98 for nine



by

Ashwani Kumar

Published: Sun 31 Oct 2021, 7:02 PM

Last updated: Sun 31 Oct 2021, 7:19 PM

Afghanistan thrashed Namibia by 62 runs to retain the Group 2 second spot in the ICC T20 World Cup on Sunday. With the match being the last outing for Asghar Afghan, the team delivered an all-round performance to ensure a perfect swansong for the 33-year-old player.

Opting to bat first, Afghanistan made 160 for five, thanks to fine knocks from Mohammad Shahzad (45), Hazratullah Zazai (33), Mohammad Nabi (32 not out) and Afghan (31).

The Afghan pacers Hamid Hassan (3/9), Naveen-ul-Haq (3/26) and Gulbadin Naib (2/19) then restricted Namibia to 98/9.

Afghanistan read the wicket well and executed their plans perfectly at the Zayed Cricket Stadium on Sunday.

Making amends for a duck against Pakistan, opener Zazai hit pacers Ruben Trumpelmann and Jan Frylinck for a couple of sixes and boundaries. Shahzad attacked David Wiese as Afghanistan reached 50 by the end of the first powerplay.

Namibia, after failing to repeat the early blitz against Scotland, got a breakthrough as Johannes Smit bagged Zazai. Spinner Jan Loftie-Eaton trapped Rahmanullah Gurbaz (4) with Afghanistan at 69/2 in 10 overs.

Trumpelmann removed Shahzad as Namibia managed to pull things back in the middle overs.

But Afghan showed determination and found a couple of fours and a six. Along with Nabi, Afghan was able to find the final flourish, blasting Trumpelmann, Wiese and Smit.

Afghan, in his last innings, perished trying to hit Trumpelmann. The dismissal ended a fifth-wicket stand of 35 runs. Namibia players rushed to congratulate Afghan, who got a guard of honour from his boys and an emotional salute from the fans in the stadium.

In the final over, Nabi hit Wiese for a couple of fours to push the score to 160.

And Afghanistan bowlers carried the momentum while defending the total.

Naveen, with his tight line and variations, knocked Craig Williams (1) and Michael van Lingen (11). Naib trapped Loftie-Eaton (14) in a maiden over.

The pacers pushed Namibia on the back foot at 29/3 from the first powerplay. There was no let off as spinner Rashid Khan got Zane Green (1). At the halfway stage, Namibia were 55/4.

Hassan, in an efficient spell of pace, then dealt double blows, dismissing Erasmus (12) and Smit (0) in an over. Rashid and Hassan, bowling in tandem, dried up the runs.

Naveen sent Frylinck (6) packing and Hassan bowled Wiese (26) – the lone man offering any resistance, as Namibia floundered.

Naveen was named the player of the match, which he dedicated to Afghan.

“I made my debut under his captaincy. I think Asghar has been the best captain Afghanistan has ever produced. We will be missing him,” he said.

Skipper Nabi said it’s a morale-boosting win but he was shocked by Afghan’s retirement plan.

“Last night he told me that tomorrow might be my last game. It’s his decision. He served for 16 years. He won a lot of games for Afghanistan. He was a brilliant captain.”

After three matches, Afghanistan are occupying the second position in Group 2 with four points and a healthy run rate of 3.097.

Scores in Brief:

Afghanistan beat Namibia by 62 runs

Afghanistan 160/5 in 20 overs (Mohammad Shahzad 45, Hazratullah Zazai 33; Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton 2/21, Ruben Trumpelmann 2/34)

Namibia 98/9 in 20 overs (David Wiese 26, Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton 14; Hamid Hassan 3/9, Naveen-ul-Haq 3/26)

Player of the Match: Naveen-ul-Haq (Afghanistan)


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