ACC Trophy Elite 2008
Malaysia v Afghanistan

Afghanistan won a convincing victory against a rapidly improving Malaysia – Malaysia, a much better side than in recent years thanks to their new coach Romesh Kaluwitharana, new positive attitude and new work ethic. Afghanistan though, have been making their own strides forward since the last ACC Trophy in 2006 where they were semi-finalists.

Afghanistan's Nowroz Mangal apart from being an exceptional player has the great fortune as a captain to win important tosses and in doing so today he was able to take advantage of the Selangor Turf Club wicket at its best. He and opening partner Karim Sadiq put on 123 in 22 overs hitting the ball to all parts of the ground, with considerable power and occasional finesse, off the front and back foot. They did give two chances but Malaysia were unable to hold on.

After their dismissals it was a question of damage limitation for the Malaysian bowlers. The wicket started to help the slower bowlers and Dinesh Muthuraman ( 4-49 ) and Eszrafiq Azis put quite a bit of pressure on the Afghan batsmen who still aren't totally convincing against spin-bowling. Had Malaysia's fielding been sharper, Afghanistan would have really struggled. Four more chances were dropped and three run-out opportunities were spurned.

Nabi is bowled by Muthuraman

Missing the services of Anwar Arudin's pace-bowling and having to make up his overs with spinners actually proved to be an asset to Malaysia. Afghanistan's 263 could have and should have been more but they did not trust themselves to play freely against Malaysia's slow men. The innings lurched and lumbered forward rather than progressively gather momentum.

Raees Ahmadzai hits Ezsrafiq Azis for six


Dinesh Muthuraman gets one to bite and turn

Taj Malik, their wily coach, tried to play down his teams fallibility against spin by saying, "We came up with the right combination in batting today and we handled the situation very well. The boys played tactical cricket and you will have seen we kept the ball on the ground far more than before." Afghanistan did though, hit eight sixes. Malaysia hit none, but by the afternoon the wicket was keeping low and Afghanistan's bowlers kept the batsmen pinned down.

Hamid Hassan bowls Suhan Kumar

Going in to bat Malaysia were bogged down from the start thanks to Afghanistan's new-ball attack. Hamid Hassan (2-15) came on and started to bowl at extreme pace, (he is the fastest bowler in the tournament) Malaysia fell seriously behind in the required run-rate. There just weren't enough boundaries for Malaysia during the PowerPlays.

Nasir Ali gets one through


But is leg-before to Hasti Gul soon after

Nor when the spinners came on, were Malaysia able to rotate the strike frequently enough. The game was slipping away from Malaysia well before the half way point with the required run-rate already at seven an over. A 50-run fifth-wicket partnership in nine overs between Azis and Krishnamurthi gave Malaysia some hope, every run being cheered by the hundred strong Malaysian supporters. Azis and Madhavan actually put some pressure on Afghanistan for the first time in the match.

The moment Mangal (5-24) brought himself on into the attack in the 39th over, Azis fell. Mangal with his canny off-spin reasserted Afghanistan's hold on the match. Malaysia's tail was unable to offer any resistance to him.

Following defeat by the UAE, "Afghanistan are back on track in this tournament," said Taj Malik. Having played two matches each, all teams in Group A have one win.

Group A, ACC Trophy Elite

Malaysia v Afghanistan at Selangor Turf Club
Afghanistan won the toss and chose to bat
Afghanistan: 263-9 off 50 overs (N. Mangal 48, K. Sadiq 81, A. Noori 30, R. Ahmadzai 37, A. Stanikzai 33; D. Muthuraman 4-49)
Malaysia: 197 off 46.3 overs (M. Krishnamurthi 34; N. Mangal 5-24)
Man of the Match: Nowroz Mangal (Afghanistan)

Filed July 27 2008