Afghanistan is known across the globe for its mujahideen, guns and battles. Now, the war-torn country has found a new passion—cricket—and they showed how much it meant to them on Thursday night with a great come from behind victory over T&T at the Queen’s Park Oval. The Asians were too powerful for the Red Force, sending them tumbling to a three-wicket defeat in the second match of the All Sports Promotions Asia versus the Caribbean T20 clash. Two decades after cricket took hold among Afghan refugees sheltering in Pakistan from the Russian occupation, the national side has become a reality and provided entertainment for the inquisitive crowd on hand at the Oval, showing their resilience which they are known for, to leave the locals depressed. T&T’s William Perkins (49) and Adrian Barath (27) came out guns blazing and helped their team to post 171/9 off 20 overs. After this batting blitz and skipper Rayad Emrit’s early blows to the Afghanistan batting line—one would have thought it was a foregone conclusion however Mohammed Nabi (57) and Gulbodin Naib (35no) underlined their T20 prowess and the Afghans created an upset.
At 69 for five, the visitors were almost dead and buried but T&T all rounder Kevon Cooper who was in the midst of a good spell had to retire after injuring his left ankle and the game started to change. Nabi, looking very accomplished, thrilled the crowd with some lusty blows and slowly the Afghans were believing again. He found an able ally in Naib and the T&T bowlers started to fall apart. Nabi’s innings ended at 57 off 36 balls with six fours and two sixes. Naib ensured the two points by slamming an unbeaten 35 off 20 balls with one four and six. His six struck in the last over bowled by Emrit with ten runs needed took the final sting out of T&T and the game was as good as over. With Naib at the end was Dawlat Zadran who scored 15 off six balls with a six and a four. Earlier, Emrit called correctly at the toss and T&T decided to take first strike. Openers Barath and Perkins started the battle and those fans in the Brian Lara pavilion would have thought they were under a mortar attack, as balls sent at high trajectories fell in their vicinity. Barath was the first casualty—going for 27 off 21 balls with three fours.
TT vs Afghanistan
W Perkins run out 49
A Barath st Shazad b Sadiq 27
E Lewis b Sadiq 19
D Ganga st Shazad b Nabi 33
J Mohammed b Baras 15
K Cooper b D Zadran 8
R Emrit run out 0
N Stewart lbw D Zadran 0
S Ganga not out 10
D Mohammed c Shenwari b Nabi 3
S Gabriel not out 0
Extras lb1, w2, nb4 7
Total for 9 wkts (20vs) 171
Fall of wkts: 78, 80,106, 142, 151, 151, 157,158,167.
Bowling: D Zadran 4-0-30-2, H Hasan 2-0-13-0 (1nb), M Baras 3-0-33-1 (w1, nb1), S Shenwari 4-0-28-0, K Sadiq 3-0-30-2, M Nabi 4-0-37-2 (w1, nb2)
M Shahzad c Stewart b Gabriel 24
K Sadiq c Lewis b Emrit 1
N Mangal c Lewis b Emrit 5
A Stanikzai c Perkins b Gabriel 0
M Nabi c sub Ottley b Stewart 57
S Shenwari c D Ganga b D Mohammed 15
N Zadran c Stewart b J Mohammed 8
G Naib not out 35
D Zadran not out 15
Extras w9, nb2 11
Total for 7 wkts (19.4ovs)172
Fall of wkts: 7, 25, 32, 32, 69, 106, 140,
Bowling: S Gabriel 3.4-0-35-2 (2w, 2nb), R Emrit 3.4-0-25-2 (1w), K Cooper 1.5-0-11-0 (1w), N Stewart 4-0-33-1 (2w), J Mohammed 2.1-0-22-1 (1w), D Mohammed 2-0-22-1 (2w), S Ganga 2.2-0-24-0.
Result: Afghanistan won by 3 wkts