Sunday, May 26, 2024

ICC: Nabi – Morale is still high despite defeat to Pakistan

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Photo Credit: Abu Dhabi Cricket

Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi insisted his side’s morale is still high despite suffering their first Super 12s defeat to Pakistan in Dubai.

Four sixes from Asif Ali helped Pakistan make it a hat-trick of victories at the ICC Men’s World T20 2021 as they chased 148 to win by five wickets.

Nabi, 35 off 32 balls, had shared a partnership of 75 with Gulbadin Naib, 35 off 25 balls, to give his spinners something to bowl at but faced with Asif’s brutal hitting it proved to not be enough.

Nabi, 36, said: “We have only played two games and we won one [against Scotland] and today was a close game, at the end Pakistan won the game.

“There’s a lot of positive things in this game, we will take the positive things and there’s three more games inshallah we will do well, the team morale is high.

“Everybody came full of confidence that we could win the game and we tried our best, we gave 120 percent in the game.

“But it’s part of the game, winning and losing, and Pakistan finished the game well at the end. Our boys played really well, we put a decent total on the board and we restricted them and it was very tight until the 18th/19th over. In the end Pakistan won the game and that’s part of cricket.”

Many raised their eyebrows when Nabi went against the trend of electing to bowl first at the Dubai International Stadium with dew in play in the evening games.

But the veteran all-rounder defended his decision to bat, despite slipping to 76 for six, suggesting his side’s final total of 147 for six was defendable.

He added: “I think batting first as a decision was not that bad. But we played aggressively at the start because the ball held a little on the pitch.

“But the total on the board 148/149 runs is enough on these kinds of pitches.

“I think both batting and bowling can improve but the way our spinners are bowling we can defend 150 runs and be good enough in these conditions.”

Frontline leg-spinner Rashid Khan took two for 26, becoming the fastest man to take 100 T20 international wickets in the process as well as claiming the crucial scalp of Pakistan captain Babar Azam for 51.

However, Nabi only chose to introduce him after ten overs had passed, with some observers feeling he could have halted the opposition’s early progress with Pakistan making it to 72 for one at the halfway stage.

The skipper again defended his decision-making, saying: “I think it’s not too late after ten overs [to bowl Rashid]. 

“He bowled really well and he restricted the batters quite well, that’s why they needed 24 runs from 12 balls [to win at the end].”

Player of the match Asif revealed he planned his audacious finish to the game an over early because of the small boundary.

He said: “The boundary was small from this end so I told my partner I’d go for it this over. 

“Thank God we pulled it off. I look at the situation and what it demands and which bowler has overs remaining, and the field setting.

“I told Shoaib [Malik] that Naveen-ul-Haq was bowling well, and from this end I could even score 25 in an over. So, I planned for it.”

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