Afghanistan say farewell to Asghar with victory over Namibia

·3-min read

Afghanistan bid an emotional farewell to former captain Asghar Afghan by beating Namibia by 62 runs in the T20 World Cup in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

Asghar scored 31 as Afghanistan batted first and made 160-5.

Afghanistan's seamers then took eight wickets as they restricted Namibia to 98-9.

Hamid Hassan, making his first T20 international appearance in five years, and Naveen-ul-Haq both took three wickets.

Naveen was named player of the match but presented his award to Asghar.

"He was the best captain Afghanistan has produced," he said. "I want to dedicate this man of the match in his last match."

"We will miss him a lot."

Speaking after the first innings, an emotional Asghar discussed his decision to retire mid-tournament in an on-field interview saying he had made the choice after Friday's loss to regional rivals Pakistan.

"From the last match we were hurt too much and that is why I decided to leave the stage," he said. "It's very difficult to explain, but I had to retire."

"I wanted to give a chance to the youngsters," he said.

Asghar skippered Afghanistan over all three formats of cricket. He played six Tests, 114 one-day internationals and this was his 75th Twenty20 international in a career spread over 12 years.

The current captain Mohammad Nabi said after the game that he had not been able to change Asghar's mind.

"He had already decided," said Nabi

"Last night Asghar told me that tomorrow it might be my last game," said Nabi.

"It's his decision. He has played for 16 years, captained for six, seven years, and has won a lot of games for Afghanistan. He has won the most games for a captain in the world."

Nabi won the toss and again bucked the trend at the World Cup by opting to bat first.

"Our plan is normally to bat first but mentally we are ready to chase as well," he said.

Mohammad Shahzad gave Afghanistan a fast start with 45 off 33 balls including two sixes. After he holed out at deep square leg off JJ Smit, opening partner Hazratullah Zazai accelerated, smashing a pair of sixes in his 33.

"In the meetings, we tell both openers to go and play their game. The way they are playing for the last 10 years," Nabi said.

Leg-spinner Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton dismissed Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Najibullah Zadran cheaply to briefly slow batting momentum.

Play briefly halted when Asghar came in to bat and Namibia greeted him by lining up and applauding.

Asghar hit a brisk 31 off 23 balls with three fours and a six.

- 'Good seamers' -

After Ruben Trumpelmann dismissed the 33-year-old with the last ball of the 19th over, there was another pause as Namibian players ran across the field to shake hands as he walked off.

Nabi bashed an unbeaten 32 off 17 balls with one six and five fours, the last off the final ball to take his team to 160.

Trumpelmann took two wickets for 34 runs in his four overs while Loftie-Eaton gave up just 21 runs as he took two wickets.

Afghanistan had made one change to the team that lost to Pakistan, recalling Hamid Hassan for a first appearance in five years in place of injured spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman.

The change paid off as, for once, Afghanistan's seamers did the damage.

Naveen removed both openers, Craig Williams and Michael van Lingen to reduce Namibia to 16-2. He later removed Jan Frylinck to finish with 3-26.

As Namibia struggled to recover from their poor start, Hamid dismissed captain Gerhard Erasmus with a yorker, JJ Smit and top scorer David Wiese, who made 26.

"We always depend on spin, but we have good seamers too. They are quality bowlers as Hamid showed today," said Nabi.

pb/mw

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