Saturday Aug 27, 2022
DUBAI: Afghanistan skipper Mohammad Nabi on Saturday said his team will be no pushovers in the Asia Cup Twenty20 tournament after a crushing eight-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the opening match.
Fast bowler Fazalhaq Farooqi returned figures of 3-11 to help bundle out Sri Lanka for a paltry 105, a total their batsmen overhauled in 10.1 overs in Dubai.
Left-hander Hazratullah Zazai, unbeaten on 37, and wicketkeeper-batsman Rahmanllah Gurbaz, who hit 40 off 18 balls, put on 83 runs for the opening wicket to build on the dominance started by the bowlers.
Afghanistan, in Group B with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, have made a thumping start to their campaign in the six-nation tournament that acts as a tune-up to the T20 World Cup in October-November in Australia.
“There are no upsets against opposition teams. We have properly worked on this tournament,” Nabi said after being asked on Afghanistan creating shock wins. “We came early, worked hard and tried to acclimatise.”
Afghanistan, who got Test status in 2017 and played their first five-day match against India a year later, have made giant strides in international cricket.
“We have come here to play as a proper Test nation. We are not here to participate and go back. We will fight on pitches that favour our strengths,” said Nabi.
“We want to qualify for the next round (Super 4) and give a tough time to opposition teams.”
Nabi credited the bowling led by Farooqi and the batting with Gurbaz giving the team a fiery start in his opening blitz to tear into the Sri Lankan attack.
He said both bowling and batting were “perfect”.
Farooqi, a left-arm quick, stood out for Afghanistan after he struck with successive deliveries in the first over of the innings to send Kusal Mendis and Charith Asalanka trudging back to the pavilion for two and nought.
Naveen-ul-Haq then sent back Pathum Nissanka caught behind after the batsman reviewed the on-field call and the third-umpire upheld the decision despite no visible spike on the ultra-edge, leaving the batsman and dressing room stunned.
Sri Lanka skipper Dasun Shanaka said “with this technology and all, in my opinion that’s not out” -- a thought that was shared by his opposition number Nabi in the post-match press conference.
At that point Sri Lanka were struggling with just five runs on the board and three wickets down in the opening two overs.
Danushka Gunathilaka (17) and Bhanuka Rajapaksa (38) attempted to hit back with a flurry of boundaries in a 20-run sixth over before spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman broke the 44-run stand.
Wickets kept tumbling with the 13th over providing two run outs, including the end of Rajapaksa while attempting a second run.
Chamika Karunaratne made 31 to take the team total past 100 before being bowled by Farooqi.
Afghanistan openers came out all guns blazing as Gurbaz smashed three fours and four sixes in his 18-ball blitz before falling to leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga.
Zazai kept up the attack with Ibrahim Zadran, who made 15 before being run out, to bring alive the Afghan supporters and silence the Sri Lankan crowd.
India meet Pakistan in a hotly-anticipated Group A clash on Sunday at the same venue.