The Telegraph
Sunday , March 2 , 2014
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I am sure fans back home will celebrate, says Nabi

Calcutta: Against Pakistan, they were in a commanding position before they let the advantage slip. But on Saturday, Afghanistan were not in a ‘benevolent’ mood as they pulled off a stunning 32-run win over Bangladesh in the Asia Cup, in Fatullah.

This was a landmark win for Afghanistan as it was their first ODI victory over a Test-playing nation.

It’s not that Afghanistan, who have qualified for the 2015 World Cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand, were in control right from the beginning.

At one stage, they were struggling at 90 for five and had a terrible run rate.

But Asghar Stanikzai (90 .. off 103 balls) and Samiullah Shenwari (81 off 69 balls) had other plans. The duo stitched a 164-run partnership to take their total to 254 for six.

Bangladesh, in front of home fans, could not respond to the Afghan challenge and were all out for 222 in 47. 5 overs. Afghanistan captain Mohammed Nabi claimed three wickets. Shenwari was adjudged the Man of the Match.

The following are excerpts

Mohammed Nabi: I am very happy… This is our first win against a team who are a Full Member of the ICC. The Bangladeshi bowlers bowled really well in the first 25 overs… But the last partnership between Asghar and Shenwari was brilliant. It was a good partnership.

The partnership was very important for us. We were five wickets down for 90, and they batted brilliantly to rescue us from that position.

While defending, our boys bowled brilliantly in the first few overs and we also fielded really well. Towards the end we missed some catches. That did put us under some pressure.

It was our plan to preserve the spin bowlers for the latter part of the innings. We mixed spin and fast bowling very well. Moreover, we were a bowler short at the death as Hamid Hassan injured his hamstring.

I am sure the fans back home will celebrate this win. Hopefully, we will keep playing good cricket in the upcoming matches. Our fans have always prayed for us and have supported the team during difficult situations. They love us, so I’d like to thank them.

Mushfiqur Rahim: We were outplayed in all the three departments. We played well earlier in the first 30 overs, but they did well thereafter. They built a strong partnership and batted well in the slog overs. Also, I would like to say that we conceded 30 runs more.

They batted very well and didn’t give us any chance, plus we were a bowler short… 254 was chaseable on this wicket. Still, we could have started the chase better. We lost four wickets very cheaply during the Powerplay.

We did miss a fifth bowler, but overall our bowling was okay.

There is the pressure of expectations on the team and we don’t have some of the seniors. Shakib-al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal aren’t there. I tried to bat well, but I got out cheaply… Hard luck to the boys.

The fans come in huge numbers and it’s hard to believe that we disappointed them, but we would want to improve in the remaining matches. We will look to come back strongly in Mirpur.

Samiullah Shenwari (MoM): It was a team effort, not just mine… The coach, manager and everyone contributed to this success. We wanted to bat for the entire duration of 50 overs. When I went in to bat, my job was to bat till the end.

The 164-run partnership between myself and Asghar was a big partnership. Our plan was to just stay at the wicket and wait for the loose balls to put them away. We scored 107 runs in the last 10 overs and that was the turning point of the match.

I have been bowling leg spin from the beginning and have been working hard with the coaches at the nets. It’s good to see that my hard work has paid off.