Afghanistan got off to a flying start in their first ODI against Ireland in Abu Dhabi on Thursday after they won the toss and opted to bat first.
The Afghanistan opening pair of Rahmanullah Gurbaz – a 19-year-old on ODI debut – and Javed Ahmadi put on 120 for the first wicket before Ireland’s Andy McBrine accounted for Ahmadi, who found Simi Singh in the deep after a period of sustained pressure.
That breakthrough sparked somewhat of a middle-order collapse at the hands of McBrine, whose wickets reduced Afghanistan from 120-0 to 161-5 in the space of 10 overs.
Fortunately for Afghanistan, Rahmanullah displayed a kind of maturity that belied his relative inexperience, as the youngster held firm as wickets fell at the other end, Cricket World reported.
Rahmanullah – who was the player of the series in the three-match T20I series between the two sides in 2020 – eventually brought up his maiden ODI hundred in the 35th over, before accelerating to finish on 127, a knock that came at exactly a run per ball.
Rahmanullah’s effort seemed to inspire the Afghanistan lower-order who rallied after the centurion’s dismissal, to take their side from 198-7 to an imposing final total of 287-9 from their 50 overs with the majority of their late innings run-scoring coming off the blade of Rashid Khan, who blasted a 30-ball 55 from No.9.
Afghanistan kept a tight hold on Ireland’s run chase throughout. Right-arm quick Naveen-ul-Haq took two important early wickets, first trapping O’Brien lbw for one before deceiving Ireland skipper Andrew Balbirnie with a slower ball for 15, reported Cricket World.
Paul Stirling and Harry Tector brought up a 50-run partnership for the third wicket before both fell in quick succession, as Tector spooned a return catch to Gulbadin off another slower ball before Nabi pinned Stirling in front for 39.
With Ireland 88-4, a rebuilding job was required. Curtis Campher and Lorcan Tucker combined to put on 86 for the fifth wicket before the former eventually fell lbw to Mujeeb Ur Rahman for 39.
Tucker kicked on, though. He soon brought up a second career ODI half-century and raced past his previous career-best ODI score of 56; he eventually fell on 83, stumped trying to use his feet against Rashid as the asking rate climbed. As assured an innings it was, it wasn’t quite enough for Ireland as they eventually fell 16 runs short.
Ahmed Shah Pakteen becomes first on-field Test umpire from Afghanistan
The first Test Tuesday between Afghanistan and Zimbabwe was a big day for Ahmed Shah Pakteen, who became the first Afghan to be an on-field umpire in a Test match.
According to ESPNcricinfo, Pakteen made his debut as an international cricket umpire in January 2017. He has previously stood in 15 ODIs and 20 T20Is.
In March 2019, Pakteen became the first Afghan to be a TV umpire during the only Test between Afghanistan and Ireland. Ten months later, in January 2020, he became the first Afghan umpire at an ICC main event when he officiated at the Men’s Under-19 World Cup in South Africa, ESPN reported.
While there is no Afghan representation in the 12-member elite panel of umpires (the highest category), there are four in the international panel: apart from Pakteen, there are Ahmed Shah Durrani, Bismillah Jan Shinwari and Izatullah Safi.
The ongoing Test also marked a debut in Tests for Durrani, who became the second Afghan – after Pakteen – to be a TV umpire in the longest format.
Pakteen’s debut now means that Ireland is the only full-member nation to not field an on-field umpire yet, ESPN reported.
Ireland have played three Tests so far, and the only official from their country has been Mark Hawthorne, who was the TV umpire in their debut Test, against Pakistan in 2018 .
Rashid Khan to miss first test match against Zimbabwe: ACB
The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) has announced that former captain Rashid Khan is a doubt ahead of their Test series against Zimbabwe, which begins next Tuesday.
According to the ACB, the leg-spinner is battling a finger injury and is presently undergoing treatment.
“National team’s spin-bowler Rashid Khan is likely to miss first Test match between Afghanistan and Zimbabwe due to a finger injury on his bowling arm,” read a statement from ACB.
“Khan was injured during his stint in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) where he played for Lahore Qalandars Franchise. Meanwhile, Rashid Khan is under treatment by the relevant health officials in UAE and the final call on his inclusion in the first Test will be taken after a reassessment of his injury on 28th February.”
The Afghanistan Test squad for the Zimbabwe series features a host of new faces, with Abdul Malik, Munir Ahmad Kakar, Shahidullah Kamal, Bahir Shah Mohboob, Fazal Haq Farooqi, Saleem Safi and Zia Ur Rahman Akbar all without a Test cap to their names.
Sayed Ahmad Shirzad also has no Test experience, but the medium pacer has featured in two ODIs and four T20Is since his debut in early 2019.
MMA fighter ‘throws match’ after threatened in locker room
Brazilian Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter Leonardo Barbosa Paes Barreto has claimed that he threw his fight against Afghan fighter Ahmad Wali Hotak on February 11, after being threatened by a gunman in Kabul, the MMA Fighting reported.
The match was held on February 11 at the Ghazi Stadium in Kabul.
Hotak managed to knock out Barbosa in the second round of the fight.
But later, Barbosa said on Facebook that he was approached by an armed man in the locker room and threatened.
The MMA Fighting reported that the Facebook post has been set as private after Barbosa received several messages from “aggressive” Afghan people calling him a “liar.”
Barbosa told MMA Fighting that a man entered his locker room that evening and “started screaming things” in his native language.
Barbosa couldn’t understand a word he was saying. He did understand the message, however, when this man allegedly showed him he was carrying a gun.
The Brazilian said he later spotted the man “in the VIP area during the fight, real close to the cage.”
“He kept screaming, extremely aggressive. He got closer to the cage in between rounds and started saying something similar to what he had said in the locker room, only more aggressive. I was winning the fight, I won the first round well, my opponent had a broken nose and needed surgery the next day, and I think I would have won, but I felt unable to do anything in that fight,” Barbosa said.
“And then that happened. I threw the fight,” he admits.
“I came back different for the second round, a series of things were going through my mind. I have a son, I have a family. Him killing me wasn’t my biggest fear because the repercussion would be huge, but I don’t know, people there are a bit complicated. It’s complicated, really. That region is still at war, there are terrorist attacks going on and people are kind of used to that now. A car exploded while I was there and they simply isolated the street, the army put a detour to another street and that’s it,” he stated.
Barbosa stated in a video message that Wali Hotak should not be blamed for what happened in the locker room.
“My opponent Hotak was not to blame for what happened, that fan was crazy,” Barbosa said.
He added: “I know the Afghan people do not agree on this type of attitude and that we will do the rematch and we are going to give the show that the TGFC event deserves and the public deserves,” he noted.
“I wait for the date of rematch,” Barbosa stated.
Hotak, however, denied Barbosa’s claims, calling it a “rumor.” He stated that he won the fight.
The TGFC officials also denied the report. However, they stated the rematch would be held in Dubai.
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