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Afghanistan claim politically charged victory

Afghanistan claimed top spot in Group A of the Twenty20 World Cup qualifies with a 29 run victory over the United States which keeps the Afghans dreams of qualifying for the World Cup very much alive.

Afghanistan claimed top spot in Group A of the Twenty20 World Cup qualifies with a 29 run victory over the United States which keeps the Afghans dreams of qualifying for the World Cup very much alive.

With the backdrop of the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and the United State's impending counter-insurgency operations in Marjah the match was always going to be politically charged. With media attention increasing in the days leading up to the encounter it would have been easy for the Afghans to lose focus on the overall goal.

With so much at stake for both teams the US was given the task of chasing 136 for victory which would have given them a chance of reaching the Super Fours providing Scotland beat Ireland in the last game of the day.

Sushil Nadkarni and Carl Wright started the run chase for the US but they found the conditions tough and struggled with the medium pace bowling of Mirwais Ashraf who conceded just 14 runs from his 4 overs. Ashraf also claimed the of wicket of Nadkarni for 12 in the 7th over to leave the US 28-1.

With the US needing to increase their scoring rate Lennox Cush struggled with the task in hand scoring just 7 runs from the 11 balls he faced before he was caught by Nowroz Mangal at long on to give the impressive Mohammad Nabi his first wicket of the match.

With 11.1 overs gone the US were 47-2 and needed opener Wright to produce another memorable innings if they were to stand any chance of winning the game. The hope Wright gave the States by remaining at the crease soon dimmed when he was caught by Mohammad Nabi in the covers for 28 giving Hamid Hassan the important wicket leaving the US 54/3.

With Wright gone and the US so far behind the required run rate the wickets started to fall as the middle order were left to somehow rescue the United States and revive their chances of reaching the Super Fours.

The task proved to much and as soon as Shapoor Zadran had bowled the final ball of the game the Afghan reserve players and coaching staff rushed onto the pitch to celebrate a famous victory a country separated by armed conflict.

Earlier having won the toss Afghanistan skipper Nowroz Mangal decided to bat first hoping to set a large total in order to put the US under pressure during their run chase at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

It was a decision which back fired almost immediately when Mohammad Shahzad (0) was caught by Wright behind the stumps to give Cush the first wicket of the game and the States the upper hand.

With so much on and off the field at stake it would have been understandable if the lose of the early wicket had effected the Afghans but Mangal and opener Noor Alito combined to build a second wicket partnership of 33 before Ali was run out for 26.

The US fielders celebrated the breakthrough but Karim Sadiq carried on where Ali left off batting with Mangal to build a partnership of 44 which put the Afghans in control.

Sadiq (25) and Mangal (30) were both dismissed within the space of six balls but any jitters the Afghans had were eased thanks to Mohammad Nabi (25) and Raees Ahmadzai (26) who's fifth wicket partnership of 46 lifted the Afghans to 135/4 and gave them a total which would be easily defendable.

source - cricket20.com
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