|World Cricket League Division 5: Jersey, May 2008|
Afghanistan win a thrilling final
Man-of-the-match Hasti Gul Abed was delighted with his side’s performance as Afghanistan overcame home side Jersey in a dramatic two-wicket win in the final of the ICC World Cricket League Division 5.
Having bowled Jersey out for just 80, 28 not out from Hasti Gul Abed helped his side recover on a difficult batting wicket to be crowned event winners.
“This game was very important to my team and for my country” said the 24-year-old all-rounder.
“They got a very low total and when I came into bat all I wanted to do was reach the target and I’m so happy I did.
“There will be celebrations in all of Afghanistan. There will be lots of people waiting in Kabul to see the trophy and all of Afghanistan will be very happy.”
After winning the toss, Jersey decided to bat and would surely have hoped for its opening pair of Peter Gough and Steve Carlyon, who put on a century opening stand against the USA yesterday, to give them a solid start.
But fast bowlers Dawlat Ahmadzai and Hasti Gul Abed bowled an outstanding opening spell, giving no room to the opening batters, and their accuracy was rewarded with the wicket of Peter Gough moments after he had accidentally received a blow to the back of the head from a thrown ball when attempting a quick single.
The reliable trio of Matt Hague, Ryan Driver and Andy Dewhurst quickly followed as they were reduced to 25-4, with Abed claiming three of the first four wickets to fall.
A 42-run stand between Carlyon, who made 17, and Jonathan Gough, who eventually top scored with 23, created some kind of respectability to the score, but Jersey then suffered a major collapse as it lost its last six wickets for 13 runs as Hamid Hassan ripped through the lower order with his excellent fast bowling rewarded by four wickets.
Jersey knew it would need quick wickets before the lunch interval if they were to stand a chance of victory and a crazy run out, following a mix-up between the two openers, saw Karim Khan heading back to the pavilion.
29-year-old Ryan Driver then raised the hopes of a large Jersey crowd when a mistimed shot off his bowling by Noor Ali Noori, off just the second ball he faced, was caught by Sachin Patidar.
Resuming on 25-2, Jersey was in inspired form after lunch and the accurate medium-pace bowling of Driver, who played county cricket for Lancashire and Worcestershire, put Afghanistan in all kinds of trouble as they slumped to 42-7.
A 20-run partnership between Asghar Stanikzai, who made 10, and Hasti Gul Abed, the younger brother of coach Taj Malik, edged Afghanistan closer to its target before Matt Hague grabbed the vital wicket of Stanikzai.
But as the crowd of over 1,000 cheered on the home side, who never gave up hope, some lusty blows from Hasti Gul Abed, who hit two fours and two sixes, as he made 29 not out, gave victory to Afghanistan, as he sealed his win with a single through gully which led to memorable scenes of celebration.
“I am so happy, as Afghanistan won the tournament and became the champions so I am the champion coach,” said coach Taj Malik.
“It was a really pressurised game as it was the final and we were waiting to lift the trophy.
”There was a lot of pressure as the crowd was against my team as nobody was supporting my team.
“Hasti Gul took three wickets, Hamid bowled extremely well and when Karim got run out the pressure was on. But Hasti Gul, my brother, helped get me this trophy with his batting and I am so happy."
Ryan Driver, who was inspirational throughout the week, was proud of his side who did fantastically well to qualify for the ICC World Cricket League Division 4.
“Obviously the guys are disappointed to lose but to be all out for 80 and come within two wickets of victory shows the true grit and determination of all the team and I’m proud of all the boys,” said Driver.
Driver also paid tribute to the wonderful support from the magnificent crowd, which included former England star Geoff Boycott, who presented the trophy to the winning captain.
“The crowd were absolutely fantastic, behind us all the way and all week it has been fantastic, but they were fair to both teams,” commented Driver.
“Cricket in Jersey really is on the up and up.”