That is it from the first T20I. Afghanistan should have won and Afghanistan have won. But not without huffing and puffing. Some poor shot selection almost cost them the match, something they would be wanting to get rid of, before the second game. Ireland, well, they just need to play spin better. How can they achieve it is something debatable but they have to find an answer somehow. They do not have too much time to do it, for the second T20I is not far off - scheduled on Saturday, February 23, at 6.30 pm local (1300 GMT). Join us then. ADIOS! TAKE CARE!
Asghar Afghan says that the first game of a series is very important and is extremely happy to be 1-0 up. Admits that the top order played some poor shots and credits the middle order for stepping up as the last time, the middle order had a lot of pressure. On the squad, Afghan says that he would like to win the series first and then give opportunities to the rest of the players.
Mohammad Nabi has been named the Man Of The Match. Says that as a batting side, Afghanistan were under pressure at 50/5 but he just focussed on playing normal cricket, taking singles, score 4-5 runs per over and take it till the end. Admits that sometimes the arm ball works on this type of a pitch.
Paul Stirling feels that they did not have a good score on the board. Though, he feels that at the halfway mark, they had a slight chance. Praises Afghanistan for fighting hard. Laments the loss of Stuart Thompson in the middle of the chase but does not look too seriously into the injury. Informs that an assessment will be taken on Friday morning.
Earlier in the match, Ireland opted to bat on what seemed like a flat track but did not counter the dew. In any which ways, they needed a minimum of 160-170 to stand a chance but they had no answer to the guile of Nabi, the spin of Rashid or the cunningness of Mujeeb. It is like answering Maths, Social Studies and Language on the same day of your board exam. All the best then. Please stay tuned for the presentation...
Coming to Ireland, they thought they were in the game but in reality, they weren't. They were just given some false hope. With the pitch not offering much and plenty of dew around, defending modest totals was always going to be difficult and so good is this Afghan batting line-up that they bat at least till number 10. Shane Getkate tried his best and so did Little but there was little that even the two combined could do.
Nabi and Zadran just illustrated that T20 is not about just boundary-hitting. They came together in the 8th over and did not score a single boundary till the 13th over. After settling down, they played their strokes, which is ideally the way the top order should have played too. As they say, experience cannot be bought or sold.
Comfortable win for the 'hosts.' We can go all ga-ga about the calmness instilled by Mohammad Nabi and Najibullah Zadran but to be honest, it was nothing but shoddy batting from the top order. Just throwing their wickets away and giving Ireland a hope of winning this.
P Chase to M Nabi, HIGH, HIGH, HIGH BUT NOT A SIX! Nabi does not get a 50 but AFGHANISTAN WIN. Full and outside off, Nabi backs away and goes for the glory shot, being on 45, targetting the long off boundary. He skies this miles in the air but unfortunately for him, the ball just lands inside the ropes! Stranded on 49 but a victory for his side.
P Chase to M Nabi, That ball has taken the inside edge onto the pads.
END OF OVER: 19 | 8 Runs 0 Wkt | AFG: 132/5
Last over. 1 needed. Chase to bowl.
B Rankin to M Nabi, The batsman gets an inside edge on that which goes fine down the leg side. The batsmen have run through for a single.
B Rankin to M Nabi, The batsman tries to pull that one but failed to connect it.
B Rankin to M Nabi, SIX! That is so sweet! Full and outside off, Nabi backs away and drives this without any effort way over extra cover!
B Rankin to M Nabi, PARTNER-KILLER! Oh dear... you wouldn't want to do that, would you? Full and around middle, Nabi backs away and throws the kitchen sink at this. Hits this hard down the ground but Najibullah comes in his way. Is hit flush on the arm. The batsman deflects it off and smiles. The umpire smiles too because had Zadran not come in the way, the ball would have hit the umpire instead.
B Rankin to M Nabi, Full and around off, Nabi looks to defend but the ball squirts off the inside edge to short fine leg.
B Rankin to N Zadran, Works it down the leg side for a single.
END OF OVER: 18 | 7 Runs 0 Wkt | AFG: 124/5
J Little to M Nabi, Defended off the back foot by the batsman.
J Little to N Zadran, Bounced short, pulled through mid-wicket for a run.
J Little to M Nabi, Driven through mid off by the batsman. One run added to the total.
J Little to N Zadran, Another leading edge, lands safely again. Single taken off the flick.
J Little to N Zadran, FOUR! My dad always says that fighting scenes in old Bollywood movies towards the climax are kind of free for all. Just now, remembered that saying. With the match about to come to a close, both the batsmen are going for broke. A length ball, around middle, cleanly swung over mid-wicket for a boundary.
J Little to N Zadran, Outside off, a swing and a miss.