Afghanistan has hammered Ireland by ten-wickets in the final of the Desert T20 Cup in Abu Dhabi overnight.
Afghanistan who had qualified for the final with a eight-wicket win over Oman in the semi-finals earlier in the day, weren’t asked to work any harder in the final as it cruised to victory with all wickets in tact and some 73 balls remaining.
Ireland, Buoyed by its 98-run drubbing of rivals Scotland in the earlier semi-final was left shell-shocked after winning the toss and batting first.
It posted the lowest total of the Desert T20 Cup scoring a paltry 71 all out in 13.2 overs.
Having made a solid start to the innings by placing itself at 1-32 in the 4th over, the wicket of Captain William Porterfield seemed to dent the confidence of the Irish who fell into a heap in the coming overs. The rest of the batting line up was only able to occupy the crease for another 9.3 overs with just two batsmen reaching double figures.
For Afghanistan, Mohammad Nabi bowling his off-spin, was truly devastating collecting 4-10 off just 2.2 overs to reward himself with his best T20I bowling figures. Nabi who looked to be bolwing straight out of the hand to the naked eye, was getting the ball to do vicious things off the pitch and bamboozled the Irish batsmen in his 14 delivery exhibition.
He was well supported by Karim Janat (2-14 from 3 overs) and opening bowler Amir Hamza (2-15 from 4 overs) as the Irish couldn’t deal with the accurate bowling and superb field placings of Captain Asghar Stanikzai.
Afghanistan had little trouble with the run chase as the aggressive Mohammad Shahzad (52 not from 40 balls) hit the Irish bowlers to all areas of the ground. Shahzad had hammered a brilliant 80 against Oman and looked in the mood from the very first ball against Ireland. His aggression at the top of the order has paid dividends for the Afghani’s all tournament and has started to become Mr Consistent.
Whilst fellow opener Nawraz Mangal only faced 8 balls but still managed to hit three boundaries in his 17 not out.
It was a dream ending for former Captain Mangal who announced his retirement before the start of the tournament. Speaking after the match Mangal said he hoped his retirement would lead the way for other veteran Afghani’s to hand the baton to the younger generation.
The win was another step in the right direction for Afghanistan after its successful 2015 ICC World Cup campaign in Australia and New Zealand two years ago.
The future is looking bright for the middle Eastern country who has developed stars in Amir Hamza, Mohammad Shahzad and 18-year-old sensation Karim Janat.