Afghanistan's Mohammad Nabi

One of the more eagerly awaited matches of the ACC Twenty20 Cup, between Afghanistan and Hong Kong ended in a 120-run win for the Pushto-speakers. It had been a must-win game for Hong Kong, who needed victory in order to have any chance of a semi-final place.

"It was a good win for us, all the team played well and much praise is due to Shahzad and Nabi for their batting, and our bowling and fielding was also very good," said Afghanistan's captain Nowroz Mangal.

It was also a good toss for Nowroz to win, taking first use of a super track. Afghanistan have strength in depth these days. Mohammad Shahzad's been a find for them.

Already an ODI centurion, he was out first ball against Singapore and only needed to bat 10 deliveries against China but today, against one of the better attacks in the competition, he showed that he's some batsman. Dark and stocky, with forearms on the Popeye-side of well built, he hit through and over the infield, murderous of anything pitched on a length.

After 10 overs, Afghanistan were 86-2, Hong Kong pulling them back a little after a blistering start. Sheikh Zayed's playing area is bigger than all the others in the event but today Afghanistan's batters made the boundaries look tiny and the outfield huge. Hong Kong didn't do much wrong at all, they held their catches and fielded almost faultlessly. Afghanistan just didn't put the ball too near them all that often.

Shahzad's 50 came up off 29 balls, with nine 4s. Mohammad Nabi was with him at the time, who hadn't batted in the event up to now. All that pent-up ability was unleashed today, one 80-yard hit over midwicket in the 13th over was outdone by another, further, straighter, in the next over.

Three more 6s were hit off this Moner over, the last of them the longest and straightest of them all.

Nabi's 50 came off 24 balls, with three 4s and five 6s. Tall and broad-shouldered, with the easy grace of the natural athlete, he's some player. And he bowls quite exquisite off-spin too.

With five overs to go, Afghanistan were 149-3. Nabi's and Shahzad's partnership of 84 off 49 deliveries potentially taking a semi-final place away from Hong Kong.

Afghanistan's 222 was the highest total of the tournament so far.

The first nine balls of Hong Kong's innings were scoreless which made their job even harder and then Afghanistan started to hold some terrific catches. A long time before the end, they had lost.

ACC Twenty20 Cup 2009
Afghanistan v Hong Kong at Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Afghanistan won the toss and chose to bat
Afghanistan: 222 for 5 (M. Shahzad 74, M. Nabi 65, S. Shafaq 34*; N. Amar 2-44)
Hong Kong: 102 for 9 (K. Noori 2-16, M. Nabi 2-34, S. Shinwari 2-11)
Man of the Match: Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan)


ACC Twenty20 Cup 2009