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Afghanistan clinches Under-19 Asia Cup

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Wednesday, 22 November 2017 00:00

Afghanistan pulled off a stunning 185-run victory against Pakistan to clinch the Under-19 Asia Cup for the first time at the Kinrara Academy Oval in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday (November 19).

Riding on an unbeaten 107 from Ikram Ali, Afghanistan posted 248 for 7. In response, Pakistan was bundled for just 63 in 22.1 overs, Mujeeb Zadran returning brilliant figures of 5 for 13. Mujeeb, the off-spinner, had taken 6 for 23 in the league match between the sides, which too Afghanistan had won, by seven wickets.

Mujeeb, who finished the tournament with 20 wickets from five matches, removed Mohammad Arif (4) and Omair Yousuf (0), the openers, early in the chase, giving Afghanistan control over proceedings after Ikram had helped it rack up the runs.

The early wobble triggered panic in the Pakistan camp, and the Afghanistan bowlers took full advantage of the situation.

Qais Ahmad, the leg-spinner, chipped in with 3 for 18 in six overs to lend support to Mujeeb, and the wickets kept tumbling in quick succession.

With the pressure of the final bogging them down, as many as nine Pakistan batsmen failed to reach double-figures, and Afghanistan wrapped up the tail with ease to achieve victory.

Earlier, sent in to bat, Afghanistan had got off to a good start, with Rahmanullah Gurbaz (40) and Ibrahim Zadran (36) putting on a 61-run partnership off 108 balls for the opening wicket.

Once Gurbaz fell, caught by Muhammad Arif off Muhammad Musa, Pakistan sensed an opening. But Ikram foiled its plans with his brilliant knock to singlehandedly carry Afghanistan past 200.

Ibrahim was caught off Mohammad Taha in the 27th over, and after that, there was hardly any support for Ikram from the other end. Pakistan, however, couldn’t break Ikram’s resistance, with the batsman keeping the scoreboard ticking with ten boundaries and two sixes in his innings.

Musa, who troubled the top and middle-order batsmen with figures of 3 for 46, was ably supported by Shaheen Afridi, the left-arm pacer who bagged 2 for 42 to inflict some late damage.

In the end, Afghanistan had more than enough on the board to get the better of Pakistan in its first entry into the final. Afghanistan had crashed out at the semi-final stage in the previous three editions.

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