|Just after the last ball is bowled|
Circled by thousands of impassioned fans, the ICC and ACC Presidents along with the heads of the Bangladesh and Pakistan Boards, Afghanistan and Oman tied the ACC Twenty20 Cup, the match going to the very last ball.
Oman chasing 152 for victory were on 150 with Afghanistan's captain Nowroz Mangal about to bowl the last ball to Oman's Awal Khan. Khan came down the wicket, heaved, missed and Afghanistan's massed supporters ran on to the field to celebrate.
Khan was rooted at the crease, with his partner half-way down the wicket. The ball was still in play umpires as the umpires had not called over or declared the ball dead and the match complete.
Afghanistan's wicket-keeper Karim Sadiq was doing a victory-lap of the infield, the ball still in his possession, the Oman batsmen were leaving the wicket and the crowd were running on the field. Afghanistan thought they'd won by a run. Oman thought they'd lost. In shades of the inaugural 1975 World Cup Final and the 1993 ODI between Pakistan and the West Indies in Georgetown, the crowd were on the field with play still technically going on.
With no further delivery, run or dismissal possible, a tie was declared by the match officials once the players and umpires reached the sanctity of the dressing-room.
Afghanistan's supporters cost their team outright victory. In his own ecstasy, after gathering the ball, if Karim Sadiq had been able to wait for the umpires to call 'over' before celebrating - if he had, then Oman would have definitely fallen short.
Karim Sadiq was tremendously disappointed afterwards, "The batsmen were walking off, the game was won, they had lost." His captain Nowroz Mangal, Steve Waugh-ice in his veins, put on a more resolute face, "We are still happy. We did not lose. We won the ACC Twenty20 Cup." He is an awesome cricketer.
Afghani supporters had been massing since the end of Friday prayers at the KOC Hubara ground; they came in all vehicles great and small, they brought flags, drums, native clothing and a fervent desire to see their team succeed.
Whenever anything went Afghanistan's way – a boundary, a wicket, a brilliant piece of fielding – the crowd roared their approval. But for much of the day they were quiet. Beaten into silence by Oman's cricketers who wrestled for supremacy with Afghanistan throughout the match.
|Nowroz Mangal cuts, Farhan Khan is the bowler|
Afghanistan got off to a great start thanks to Mangal and Karim Sadiq, putting up 50 in the 7th over but three wickets fell in four deliveries and thoughts of 160 and above had to be tempered with the need to bat out the overs. Some enterprising hitting by Raees Ahmadzai towards the end of the innings saw Afghanistan finish on 151 for 9.
And they took an Omani wicket first ball. And another three balls later. The dangerous Hemin Desai and Zeeshan Ahmed both gone without scoring. Nilesh Parmar and Adnan Ilyas then rebuilt superbly, stealing singles, rotating the strike, striking boundaries whenever possible. Quality cricket. Oman were always up with the rate but never ahead of it.
|Nilesh Parmar||Adnan Ilyas|
The hundred partnership, the second of the tournament, came up in the 14th over. The crowd, 99.9% Afghani, the others neutral, was very quiet.
Then Ilyas fell for 52, Amer Ali went soon after to a pressure catch by Mangal and Parmar was run out for 66. The match was going down to the wire. Farhan Khan – Oman's man for any crisis – came in to bat in the 19th over with 12 wanted. He hit his second ball for a massive six.
|The last delivery, Awal Khan cuts, misses|
Five were needed off the last over by Oman for what would have been a classic run-chase victory. Hemal Mehta's run out going for a second run off the first ball, a brilliant throw by Shahpour Zadran from the deep. Four runs now wanted. Next ball, Farhan Khan's caught a couple of yards in from the boundary. Another wicket falls next ball. Oman are snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The crowd are more than banging their drums, it sounds like they're jumping on them. Four runs still wanted, three balls left. Dot ball from the off-spinner Mangal. Two leg byes are scrambled; Oman are on 150 needing just two to win. And then, with the crowd gathered on the edge of the boundary, comes in Afghanistan's captain Nowroz Mangal to bowl the last ball….
"I don't know whether to be happy or sad," said Afghanistan's coach Taj Malik. "We could have won, we could have lost. We should have won!"
A bowl-out deemed impossible with the crowd still gathered on the pitch and the square in a little disrepair, match officials declared that the trophy be shared between the two teams. Oman's manager Madhu Jesrani said, "It was such a great game of cricket, it would have been a shame if anyone had lost. Ultimately cricket was the winner."
ACC Twenty20 Final
ADJUDGED A TIE
Afghanistan v Oman at KOC Hubara
Afghanistan won the toss and chose to bat
Afghanistan: 151 for 9 (T. Hussain 3-31, Z. Siddiqui 3-30)
Oman: 151 for 7 (A. Ilyas 52, N. Parmar 66)
Man of the Match: Nilesh Parmar (Oman)
Filed November 2 2007