Wednesday, May 29, 2024

ICC: Asghar Afghan – Our cricket is in safe hands

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Photo Credit: Twitter Cover Photo of @ACBofficials

Asghar Afghan assured Afghanistan fans that the country’s cricket has a platform to progress even further as his final international match ended in victory over Namibia.

The 33-year-old, who announced his retirement from all forms of the game on Saturday, made a sprightly 31 as Afghanistan posted a winning total of 160-5.

With Naveen-ul-Haq, 22, leading the way with the ball and other young players coming through, the former captain feels he is leaving a side in rude health.

“To be honest, trust me, Afghanistan cricket is in very safe hands, and cricket will improve definitely,” he said.

“For all the supporters from the last few years and the newcomers that are supporting us, I believe that Afghanistan cricket will improve more day by day, and trust me that will show.”

Afghanistan’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup campaign is now back on track as they beat Namibia by 62 runs, responding to their defeat to Pakistan in their second Group 2 game.

It was an emotional day for Asghar and the vocal Afghan contingent in the stands, as the batter was given a guard of honour onto the field and showered with handshakes when dismissed.

“I announced my retirement last night, so I received a lot of messages from my fans and colleagues how they were unhappy,” he said.

“It’s a very hard decision when you get to retirement, but I decided for my youngsters they should come. It was too important, and they should come and feel the pressure of the World Cup.”

Afghanistan still harbour hopes of reaching the knockout stages of an ICC major event for the first time at the seventh attempt.

They face India in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday in what promises to be a thrilling contest.

For Namibia, it was a tough day at the office and they were unable to build on the momentum of their maiden T20 World Cup victory over Scotland.

One positive came in the spell of leg-spin bowled by Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton, 20, something of wildcard appearing in just his eighth T20 international.

He trapped both Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Najibullah Zadran lbw, dismissing them for low scores.

Namibia coach Pierre de Bruyn revealed that Loftie-Eaton had been suffering from injury in the lead-up.

“It was about managing Nicol leading up to game time,” said De Bruyn.

“He had a quad strain, so it was tough. He wasn’t really on tour ready, so we needed to get him bowling fit in the nets first. What he’s shown today is that he’s ready, and I’m so pleased for him.

“He’s a confident player. He’s a youngster. So that’s a very big positive.”

Namibia face an uphill challenge in their maiden T20 World Cup campaign with New Zealand, India and Pakistan next up.

“We’re definitely looking forward to them, and we are fully aware that it’s going to now really get tough,” said De Bruyn.
“We just don’t want to be a team that’s just going to walk up and provide a middle practice. We want to continue competing. We need to sharpen up our skills. We need to believe.

“Today was maybe an icebreaker for this team, experiencing this level of intensity. So we haven’t got a long turnaround. One day training, and then we’ve got to come and face the heat.”

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