Afghan fight in vain as Pakistan A triumphs

Afghanistan batsman Muhammad Nabi (right) plays a shot AFP

Islamabad: May 26, 2011

A fighting Afghanistan on Wednesday lost to Pakistan’s second side by five wickets in their first confrontation, with officials hoping a three-match series can foster more foreign tours.

International cricket has been suspended in Pakistan since militants attacked the Sri Lankan team in March 2009, killing eight people and wounding seven visiting players and their assistant coach.

Sri Lanka has refused to tour Pakistan in October and November this year, but officials hope the visit by the Afghan side will be a small step towards reviving international cricket in the country.

Afghanistan, who won the toss and decided to bat at Diamond Cricket ground, recovered through a fighting 72 by vice captain Mohammad Nabi, who helped his team recover from a precarious 94-8 to 152 all out in 37.3 overs.

Nabi added an invaluable 58 for the ninth wicket with Shapoor Zadran, who made four. Captain Nawroz Mangal, with 33, was the only other batsman to reach double figures.

For Pakistan ‘A’, pacemen Mohammad Talha (3-29), Sadaf Hussain (2-25) and Sohail Tanvir (2-33) shared the wickets.

Pakistan ‘A’ were led by a brilliant 47 by opener Sharjeel Khan, but paceman Dawlat Zadran (3-45) briefly raised hopes of an Afghan win before Umar Amin (29) and Sarfraz Ahmed (21 not out) helped Pakistan reach the target in 39.5 overs.

The remaining two matches will be played in Rawalpindi (Friday) and Faisalabad (Sunday).

Mangal said his team was proud to be part of the cricket-reviving series.

“The whole Afghan team is happy to be part of history and we hope teams come here and play,” said Mangal. “It was disappointing batting and we need to learn from this experience.”

Pakistan ‘A’ captain Tanvir thanked the Afghan team.

“We have not been playing international cricket in our country for a while, but I thank the Afghan team for coming here and playing. It will surely help Pakistan,” said Tanvir.

Brief Scores: Afghanistan 152 all out in 37.3 overs (Mohammad Nabi 72, Nawroz Mangal 33; Mohammad Talha 3-29) lose to Pakistan ‘A’ 153-5 in 39.5 (Sharjeel Khan 47; Dawlat Zadran 3-45)