‘Afghans play cricket like war’ – late KadirgamarSeptember 9, 2012, 8:58 pm
by Rex Clementine
In 2005, long before Afghan cricket had come of age; late Lakshman Kadirgamar was the Chief Guest at a cricket match an Afghan team was playing in Colombo and during the game he commented. "These guys play cricket like war." His knowledge of the game also made him to say, "but I wonder how they will cope with stronger teams."
The late Foreign Minister would have been happy to see what Afghanistan has achieved in a short span of time. Their rise in fact has been fairytale stuff. In just two years they rose five divisions and all hell broke loose when they made a stunning qualification to the ICC World T-20 in the Caribbean in 2010.
Soldiers fired guns in the air in celebration and people screamed around the streets on that occasion. Their qualification to World T-20 two years ago was one of the most talked about moments in world sport.
This year they are one of the two qualifiers for World T-20 from non full members of the ICC joining Ireland. They only lost to Ireland during the qualifying tournament held in Dubai a couple of months ago.
The thoughts of London Times correspondent in Afghanistan Tim Albone on how they play cricket is interesting. "They play on bumpy, dusty, uneven pitches. They used bricks for wickets, old, cracked bats and tennis balls. I was struck by the passion and the commitment and the natural talent," he wrote before they qualified for World T-20 in 2010.
Afghanistan are in Group ‘A’ in the upcoming tournament alongside India and England and will begin their campaign on the 19th when they take on India at R. Premadasa Stadium.
Players to watch out for
Many batsmen including world’s number one ranked Test cricketer Kumar Sangakkara believe that Saeed Ajmal is world’s best off-spinner. If that is so, anyone who reverse sweeps Ajmal for half a dozen has to be good enough. That is exactly what Mohammad Shahzad did when Afghanistan played Pakistan early this year. He will be their star batsman during their campaign in Sri Lanka.
Hard-hitting batsman Mohammad Nabi is another one to watch out for while Afghanistan’s star performer with the ball is Hamid Hassan.
When England toured UAE last winter to play Pakistan, there was an ICC Combined Associate and Affiliate XI to play them in a warm up game and Hamid was part of that squad. He impressed by picking up the wickets of Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott.
Afghanistan Squad: Nawroz Mangal (Captain), Dawlat Zadran, Gulbodin Naib, Hamid Hassan, Izatullah Dawlatzai, Karim Sadiq, Javed Ahmadi, Mohammad Nasim Baras, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Asghar Stanikzai, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shenwari, Shafiqullah, Shapoor Zadran.
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