Afghan cricket team home to hero’s welcome
KABUL (Pajhwok): Afghanistan cricket team on Saturday returned home to a hero’s welcome from India after moving a step closure to securing the Test cricket status.
Afghanistan whitewashed Ireland 3-0 in twenty/20 series, won the one-day series 3-2 and handed the Irish side a heavy defeat by an innings and 172 runs in their Intercontinental Cup at Greater Noida with a day to spare.
The Afghan players landed at the Hamid Karzai International Airport, previously known as Kabul airport, in the afternoon and were warmly welcomed by senior government officials and a huge number of fans.
Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, Wolesi Jirga’s second deputy speaker Haji Nazir Ahmadzai, ministers, lawmakers, Afghanistan Cricket Board chief executive and other officials and hundreds of cricket lovers were present at the airport to welcome the national team.
Taking to reporters at the airport, Abdullah said the national cricket team players were national heroes who always brought laurels and happiness to the country.
Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai told Pajhwok Afghan News at the airport that they won all matches they played against several teams during the past three months. He said they first defeated Zimbabwe in all formats of the game on their home ground.
The skipper said the young players had proved their worth and they would hopefully keep the momentum up.
Centuries from Stanikzai and wicket-keeper Afsar Zazai had helped Afghanistan post a formidable first-innings total of 537 for eight declared against Ireland in the four-day match.
Mohammad Nabi particularly praised Rashid Khan and said the leg-spinner could win many matches for Afghanistan in future. Rashid Khan ripped through the Ireland batsmen with five wickets for 99 to leave them with 170 for seven.
Later, the ACB leadership and the cricketers jointly planted a seedling at the Kabul airport as part of a nationwide spring tree plantation drive.
Meanwhile, Pakistan overwhelmed Afghanistan by 124 runs in the second semi-final of Emerging Teams Asia Cup 2017 at the MA Aziz Stadium, Chittagong on Saturday.
Pakistan scored 267 for five wickets in 50 overs including unbeaten 105 by Mohammad Rizwan and Haris Sohail’s 68.
For Afghanistan, Gulbadin Naib was the most successful bowler who grabbed three wickets while giving 51 runs in his 10 overs spell.
Chasing 268, Afghanistan lost early wickets and were all out for 144 inside 32 overs as Bilal Asif ripped out Afghanistan’s middle order with five wickets.
In the first semi-final match, Sri Lanka defeated Bangladesh by eight wickets at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong.
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