x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Winning start for former UAE coach Kabir Khan

Former Pakistan bowler returns to manage Afghanistan in World Twenty20 Qualifier.

Anything less than a title win at the World Twenty20 Qualifier will be considered a failure by Kabir Khan's Afghanistan. Thusith Wijedoru / ICC
Anything less than a title win at the World Twenty20 Qualifier will be considered a failure by Kabir Khan's Afghanistan. Thusith Wijedoru / ICC

DUBAI // Different team, same result for Kabir Khan.

The former Pakistan bowler only downed tools with the UAE less than two weeks ago, but he was straight back into the old routine as Afghanistan's new head coach yesterday.

Having left the UAE national team in good health, he has inherited a side with lofty ambitions.

The Afghans won this competition when it was first played two years ago, and anything less than a repeat would be regarded as failure.

The made a solid start, dispensing with Papua New Guinea by six wickets, while their main rivals were struggling on the other side of Dubai Sports City.

Ireland, who qualified alongside Afghanistan two years ago, went down to a surprise opening day defeat to Namibia.

The Afghans are without their leading strike bowler, Hamid Hassan, for this competition.

He is still recovering from the fall he suffered while playing for the ICC Combined XI against England in Dubai in January.

However, the favourites were guided to victory by the other mainstay of their line-up, Mohammad Nabi, who made a half-century.

"The sign of a big player is when they are needed they do the job for you, and [Nabi] did that brilliantly," Kabir said.

Ireland's defeat reflected the growing prominence of Namibia, who provided two players for the Combined XI who played against England earlier this year, in cricket at this level.

"Everything needs to improve from [today] in every aspect of our game," Phil Simmons, the Ireland coach, said.

The Gulf's lone representatives made a miserable start to the campaign, as Oman were thrashed by nine wickets by Italy on the opening morning.

Freddie Klokker, the wicketkeeper who was once a fielding 12th man for England, scored 51 as Denmark capped their debut at this level with a win over Bermuda.