x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

World Cricket League Championship: Centurion Nawroz Mangal proves he is still relevant to Afghanistan

The former captain recaptures his batting form during a comfortable seven-wicket victory over Scotland at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

The Afghanistan bowlers restricted Scotland to 199 for eight in their 50 overs at Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
The Afghanistan bowlers restricted Scotland to 199 for eight in their 50 overs at Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

SHARJAH // One unplanned by-product of Nawroz Mangal losing his job as captain of Afghanistan after seven years of unparalleled success is that the team's translator now has some time to put his feet up.

The former leader speaks broken English but is uncomfortable doing so. As such, the time he has had to spend explaining his side's extraordinary rise in international cricket has been an exhausting one. Both parties were looking forward to dispensing with that unwieldy process. However, if Mangal has many more days like he had with the bat, his translator is going to be more overworked than ever.

If he puts in for extra pay for the time spent explaining centuries like Mangal's wondrous effort to win the game against Scotland, he will be able to retire by the end of the year.

"It was a challenge for me as I had not been performing well and I had to hand over the captaincy to Mohammed Nabi," Mangal said.

"This was the first [50-over] game I have played just as a normal player in seven years.

"I scored my first ever ODI hundred and it was an unforgettable moment for me. I want to show the world I am the same Nawroz Mangal I was a few years back."

Mangal was decommissioned from the captaincy before this series, having held the office for the best part of the past decade.

Clearly, the burden of leading the most unexpected success story in cricket, with all the obvious hindrances that go with it, has weighed heavy. Alleviated of the burden, he was magnificent in this run chase. By the time he had reached his half-century, the shackles were well and truly off.

In a blaze of sixes, some of which ended up in the road adjacent to the ground, he went from 66 to 103 in the space of 10 balls.

And it is no wonder Mangal is so deeply cherished within this side. He has the team at heart, as evidence when he turned down a chance of a run with five needed to win, so Samiullah Shenwari had the chance to make the three he required for his own half-century.

"We have a big year ahead, we have to perform to 100 per cent," Mangal said. "Scoring an ODI half-century means a lot to a player, so it will be a big confidence booster for Sami."

Kabir Khan, the Afghan coach, says Nawroz could be about to end years of underachievement with the bat after being relieved of the captaincy.

"He has been underachieving for the amount of talent he has got," Kabir said. "For the amount of talent he has got, and from what we have seen from him in the nets he has seemed OK. When he was getting to the crunch games, he was getting out to silly balls. We thought he must have been thinking too much under pressure.

"Now, without the captaincy, he has already scored a hundred."

pradley@thenational.ae

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