x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Afghanistan overcome fan pressure and Nepal for fourth win in qualifier

The Afghans hits twice as many sixes (eight) as they did fours, to the delight of the sizable Friday crowd.

Afghanistan players are expected to play aggressive cricket.
Afghanistan players are expected to play aggressive cricket.

SHARJAH // Afghanistan did just enough to sate their frenzied supporters at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, as they dispatched their Asian rivals Nepal in the World Twenty20 Qualifier yesterday.

Nepal are the only real rivals to the Afghans when it comes to popularity in these parts. Of the approximate audience of 4,500 for this match, around a third were Nepalese.

With such backing comes pressure. The players wearing Afghan blue, for instance, are under constant duress from their supporters to breach the boundary with the bat, or the stumps with the ball.

Karim Sadiq, the all-rounder, was the fans' favourite yesterday as he managed both. He hit three sixes in his innings of 52, then took a wicket, as the defending champions sealed a fourth consecutive win.

"Now cricket is a very famous game in Afghanistan, and everybody wants Afghanistan to come to the World Cup," Sadiq said after the 34-run win.

"We are thankful that they come to support the team. It is good for us, but our people want to see sixes.

"Our coach wants us to play aggressive cricket, but he says sometimes risk is not good for the team as our wickets are crucial. I want to play smart cricket - perhaps one six, then singles."

The Afghans hits twice as many sixes (eight) as they did fours, to the delight of the sizable Friday crowd.

"We just couldn't get the boundaries when required, but we have two more matches, so hopefully we can take the positives and move ahead," Paras Khadka, Nepal's captain, said.

Geraint Jones, the former England Test player, played a valuable hand as Papua New Guinea surprised Hong Kong.

Namibia, who were also shock winners when they beat Ireland on the opening day of the competition, just managed to maintain their unbeaten record after beating Uganda by four runs.

 

pradley@thenational.ae