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Afghanistan beats Zimbabwe by 48 runs in first T20I series match

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(Last Updated On: March 17, 2021)

An entertaining 87 from Rahmanullah Gurbaz and another half-century from skipper Asghar Afghan ensured Afghanistan beat Zimbabwe comfortably by 48 runs in the first T20I of Abu Dhabi Sunshine T20I Series at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium.

Earlier in the day, Zimbabwean skipper Sean Williams won the toss and opted to bat first, ACB reported.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz set the tone for Afghanistan with a blistering knock of 87 off just 45 deliveries as he successfully took on the Zimbabwean bowlers hitting some great strokes in the process while skipper Asghar Afghan complimented him with a quick-fire 55 off just 38 deliveries.

The home side set a challenging target of 199 for the visitors eventually.

In response, an all-round bowling performance from Afghanistan meant Zimbabwe could only manage 150/7 thereby losing the contest by 48 runs as Afghanistan took a lead of 1-0 in the series.

According to ACB, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe was the top-scorer for his team with a knock of 44 while Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza contributed with 22 each- albeit not enough to hand them a victory.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz was named Player of the Match for his blistering third half-century in the format.

The second match of the Abu Dhabi Sunshine T20 Series will be played on Friday, 19th March 2021 at the same venue.

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Afghan swimmer makes waves in World Para Series in Texas

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(Last Updated On: April 17, 2021)

Afghan swimmer Abbas Karimi won a silver medal at the World Para Swimming Series tournament in Texas on Friday evening in the men’s 50m butterfly S5 category.

Posting the news on his Facebook page, Karimi said: “I won this medal for 80 million refugees in the world.”

The Afghan-born swimmer is competing as part of his bid to get into the Refugee Para Athletes Team for the Tokyo Olympics.

He made history at the 2017 World Championships in Mexico City when he became the first refugee to win a medal at a major Para-swimming event. In 2018 he also won gold at the World Series in Indianapolis.

On Saturday, Karimi said about his latest win: “This medal is cool but I want Paralympic medals [from Tokyo].”

More than 100 swimmers have come together in Louisville, Texas for this year’s major swimming contest.

Karimi has so far secured first place in 50m and 100m freestyle and 50m butterfly heats in his category, and second place in the 200m freestyle heat.

Karimi is also expected to take part in the 50m backstroke event in his category on Sunday.

“Thank you so much, everyone, who’s been supporting and praying for me,” Karimi wrote.

Should Karimi make it to the Tokyo Paralympics, he will be the first Afghan to do so.

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Tokyo Olympics might be canceled due to COVID: official

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(Last Updated On: April 15, 2021)

A senior Japanese ruling party official said canceling this year’s Olympics in Tokyo remains an option if the coronavirus crisis worsens, Reuters reported.

This comes as a fourth wave of infections surges across the country in less than 100 days from the planned start of the Games.

“If it seems impossible to do it any more, then we have to stop, decisively,” Toshihiro Nikai, secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party, said in comments to broadcaster TBS.

Cancellation is “of course” an option, Nikai said. “If the Olympics were to spread infection, then what are the Olympics for?” he added.

Reuters reported that Nikai, a key supporter of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, is known for his frank comments, which come as many other ruling party lawmakers have avoided discussing the hot button issue of a possible cancellation.

The world’s biggest sporting event has already been delayed by a year and is being held without international spectators.

Japan is grappling with rising coronavirus infections, with numbers trending higher in Tokyo after the government ended a state of emergency, and Osaka suffering a record number of cases.

The government is pushing ahead with preparations incorporating social distancing measures and other restrictions for the Games set to begin on July 23, with a scaled back torch relay underway, Reuters reported.

“We’ll hold (the Games) in a way that’s feasible,” Taro Kono, a popular minister in charge of Japan’s vaccination drive, said on a separate TV programme, according to Kyodo News. “That may be without spectators,” he added.

Polls indicate little support in Japan for holding the Games during a global pandemic. “Canceling Olympics” was trending on Twitter in Japan on Thursday with more than 35,000 tweets from users.

“If this person says it, Olympics cancellation looks like a reality,” tweeted @marumaru_clm in reference to Nikai.

Olympic organisers, Japan’s national Olympic committee and the Tokyo government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Rashid discusses local cricket and ‘dreams’ of playing for a home crowd

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(Last Updated On: April 8, 2021)

One of Afghanistan’s star cricketers, Rashid Khan, said this week that despite the national team’s success on the international circuit, local cricket would benefit from more academies, more standardized grounds and more qualified coaches.

Speaking to The Cricketer on his rise to fame as one of the world’s best bowlers, Rashid said: “Currently, our cricket relies mainly on natural talent.

“Our cricketers have a lot of skill and natural flair, but the opportunities aren’t always there to go out there and express themselves. We would benefit from more academies, more proper grounds and a greater number of qualified coaches or trainers, so our young cricketers get the right advice on preparing for matches.

“To me, preparation is the key for a sportsman and at the moment some of our cricketers are not able to prepare properly due to a lack of facilities and coaches. Natural talent is a great thing to have, but it can only take you so far,” he said.

He said once facilities and opportunities improve in Afghanistan, the world will see “some fantastic classical batsmen, even more spinners, improved fast-bowlers and better-prepared cricketers coming through”.

“We have so much talent amongst our cricketers and once these areas are improved, there will be a lot more cricketers who are well-prepared for international cricket coming through,” he said.

Rashid also stated that the Afghan national team needs more opportunities to play Test cricket and play against the best teams.

“By playing more Test cricket, our batsmen will realise what improvements are needed by them for five-day cricket, they will learn to be patient, our bowlers will learn the art of bowling in Test cricket and our fielding will definitely improve too.

“It’s all about opportunities and chances to play Test cricket, the more chances we get, the better we will become,” he said.

Regarding the T20 World Cup later this year, Rashid said he thinks the national team will be well prepared for the tournament.

“We are known as being hard-hitting batsmen and I think we have great skills for the 20-over format.

“It will be a great opportunity for our youngsters to show the world what they are capable of and will be a boost for the careers of many of our cricketers,” he said.

According to him, playing in such tournaments is good for Afghanistan as a cricket nation and for the players.

“We are fully prepared and we know we are a very good team in the 20-over format as we have the bowling skills and the big-hitting batsmen. We just need to have the self-belief that we can beat any side as long as we play good cricket,” he said.

He said that at the 2016 Twenty20 World Cup, the Afghan team had a good tournament where they had a few opportunities to win matches but the team’s lack of experience showed in the end and they were not able to finish off matches.

He said “this time around we will go into the tournament as a much more experienced squad. I firmly believe that we will deliver in this tournament.”

Rashid also said it is one of his dreams however to play an international match in Afghanistan in front of a home crowd.

“That’s the dream. You can play all over the world, but playing in front of your own people, in front of your own beautiful crowd, in your own conditions, at your own venues is just something completely different.

“This is the advantage we are missing as we aren’t playing any of our international matches at home.” he said.

“I dream for the day when this happens and it will be a huge achievement when this occurs. It will be a day to remember for the nation of Afghanistan, it’s cricketers and all the people of Afghanistan and I hope that day is not too far away, and I wish that I am a part of that wonderful day.”

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