Afghanistan embarrass India's Gen Next by 28 runs in Singapore
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For the first time in their short cricketing history, Afghanistan had recorded a win over a Test-playing nation, albeit an age-group side of it, in any format.
The fact that Afghanistan was allowed to enter their main side for the tournament while the Indians obeyed the age restriction was a footnote in fine print that in no way took away the shine from this emerging Asian cricketing nation.
The hero of the day for the Afghanistan was their skipper Mohammad Nabi, who scored 25 runs with the bat and finished with figures of 3/32 in a low scoring game. Batting first, Afghanistan scored 184 with Samiullah Shenwari scoring 43 off 44 balls. In reply, the Indians succumbed to Nabi's off-spin. India were 156/9 at the end of 50 overs.
At the end of group games; India, Pakistan and Afghanistan all finished with four points. But Afghanistan's poor run rate got them eliminated.
Speaking to The Indian Express after the win, Nabi said, "For us it is a big win, beating India can only be a moral booster." Though, there were no international players in the Indian side, Nabi and his men were in awe of their young rivals. With most of the India under-23 players playing in the Indian Premier League, the Afghanistan players had seen them on television and thus were keen to match their skills against them.
"We all have watched them play for their franchise team. Everybody knows and has seen players like Unmukt Chand. IPL is very popular in our country. A win against these boys has helped to assess our potential," added Nabi.
Deep inside, each member of the Afghanistan team was proud of the upset they had caused. But few celebrated the result as they had, after all, been knocked out of the tournament.
Team Afghanistan mainly plays against fellow associate nations. But Nabi feels that more Test-playing nations should add them to their respective international itineraries in order to give a developing country a helping hand. And of course, exposure.
"The next time we play a big Test nation will be in December when we play Pakistan," says Nabi, pointing out just how few and far between his side's chances are of playing elite teams. Apparently, Nabi's board has also approached the BCCI and requested them to send the Indian team across the Khyber. "India can travel to Zimbabwe to play five ODI series. So why can't they come to Afghanistan? We are neighbours, we hope India will help us with our cricket," he says.
Before he bid goodbye, Nabi also floated a request to the IPL owners. "We have bowlers, who can bowl 140 plus mph. We have good spinners and fantastic fielders. I don't see why our guys can't get opportunity to play in a tournament like the IPL," he said before cheekily adding: "Glenn Maxwell got for one million at the IPL auction. For that much amount, you could buy at least eight to nine of our players."
Brief Scores: Afg 184/7 in 50 overs; (S Shenwari 43 n.o., M Shahzad 38; B Aparajith 2/16, A Patel 2/33) bt Ind 156/9 in 50 overs; (L Rahul 51; M Nabi 3/32, R Shah 2/40).