ABU DHABI // Afghanistan's coach Kabir Khan hailed the all-round contribution of Mohammad Nabi with both bat and ball for helping inspire his side to victory over the UAE to claim the ACC Twenty20 Trophy yesterday. Nabi smashed a quickfire 73 off only 38 balls and then took four wickets as Afghanistan cruised to an 84-run win in yesterday's final at the Zayed Stadium as they scored 196 for eight before the UAE were dismissed for only 112 in reply.
Kabir said of his matchwinner: "We were four down and struggling but Nabi changed the game for us. It was a special innings from him." Afghanistan went into the game as narrow favourites after edging out the UAE by one wicket in their group game on Saturday, and their batting order started firing away from the start and had run up a total of 58 in the first five overs despite the fall of opener Noor Ali Noori (six) and captain Nowroz Mangal (13).
The UAE had their best chance of making a comeback when two wickets fell in as many overs with opener Karim Sadiq (20 ) and wicket-keeper Mohammad Shahzad (16) departing without any addition to the score. At 63 for four, Raees Ahmadzai and Nabi cleverly decided to control the tempo of the innings even as the next five overs added only 20 runs to the scoreboard. Having got their eye in both then launched into the attack again, with the UAE using seven bowlers in an attempt to stem the flow of runs.
But that did not stop Nabi from striking the ball to all parts of the ground for nine boundaries and four sixes. He not only used the long handle to send the ball over the ropes with ease, he employed the paddle sweep and reverse hit to nice effect for five of his fours. Mohammed Tauqir, who took three wickets, was the pick of the UAE bowlers. The run chase was nothing short of a disaster for the UAE as their top order struggled to get to grips with the accurate bowling of Afghanistan's Shahpoor Zadran.
The top three were all dismissed off his bowled as they tried to force the pace in the batting powerplay. Captain Khurram Khan (34) and Naeemuddin Aslam (37) provided the lone resistance with a partnership of 44 runs for the fourth wicket. But Mangal had his counterpart caught and Nabi came on to roll his arm over and claim Aslam's wicket in his spell that read 1.3-0-7-4. None of the UAE batsmen except Khurram, Naeemuddin and opener Mohammad Iqbal (10) reached double figures.
Khurram said: "We lost to a better team. Chasing 190 plus was always going to be difficult. We were in the hunt in the beginning but Nabi took the game away from us." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org