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Asia Cup: Pakistan pace star Shaheen says ‘best yet to come’

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Pakistan pace ace Shaheen Shah Afridi has warned his devastating spell against arch-rivals India that set the Asia Cup alight is just the start, with the World Cup only weeks away.

The left-arm fast bowler rattled the Indian top-order in their Group A clash last week, taking 4-35 – including the wickets of star batters Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.

That match was washed out but they meet again in Colombo on Sunday in the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup, a precursor to the 50-over World Cup that kicks off next month.

And Shaheen told AFP there is more to come.

“Every match against India is special and people watch this a lot,” the 23-year-old said Friday. “I used to wait for this match as a fan before I played under-16 cricket.”

“I can’t say this has been my best spell so far. This is just the start and there will be many more, so the best is yet to come.”

With his ability to move the ball both ways, Shaheen leads one of the most potent pace attacks in the world.

“If you play all the three formats at such a young age for Pakistan and handle the new ball, people expect you to perform like that,” he said.

Shaheen and his fellow fast bowlers Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf have picked up 23 wickets between them in the Asia Cup so far.

“We know our roles with the new and old ball,” Shaheen said.

“Haris is quicker than us and impacts with his pace. Naseem and I try to get early breakthroughs.”

The “communication is good between us,” he added. “And that’s our success.”

Shaheen, who stands at 6 feet and 6 inches (1.98 meters), suffered a serious knee injury last year but returned strongly in Sri Lanka in July.

“It’s your match time that helps you improve. These test matches against Sri Lanka recently made me improve as I bowled long spells and fielded all day,” said Shaheen, who has 105 wickets in 27 tests, AFP reported.

“So that cleared all doubts about the knee injury.”

Shaheen has never played cricket in India – bilateral cricket ties are frozen because of political tensions between the neighbors.

He is keen to do well when Pakistan take on hosts India in the hotly anticipated World Cup match in Ahmedabad on October 14.

“All the foreign players who have played in the IPL (Indian Premier League), we had discussions with them. I think our Pakistan wickets or Dubai pitches will be similar,” he said.

“Spinners will get more help, maybe. We will hit good lengths. Our team performance is going well as the No 1 (ODI) team. We have prepared well.”

Shaheen is married to one of the daughters of former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi, and said he speaks to the former allrounder before every big match.

“I try to pick his brains before a big game and include it in my plans as he was a big-match player,” said Shaheen.

“He talks simply and says: ‘Just play your cricket’.”

A fan of legendary Pakistani left-arm fast bowler Wasim Akram, Shaheen said he keeps his focus on the field by avoiding cricket off it.

“I don’t go out much and stay in my room. Just stay indoors, make green tea… and talk about anything other than cricket,” he said.

“That keeps me relaxed.”

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Hazratullah Zazai replaces injured Mujeeb-ur-Rahman in Afghanistan’s T20 WC squad

Mujeeb played in Afghanistan’s opening fixture of the World Cup against Uganda, but has not featured since because of the injury.

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Afghanistan’s spinner Mujeeb-ur-Rahman will miss the remainder of T20 World Cup due to an injury to his right index finger, the International Cricket Council announced on Friday.

Mujeeb played in Afghanistan’s opening fixture of the World Cup against Uganda, but has not featured since because of the injury.

ICC said that its event technical committee had approved Hazratullah Zazai, the opening batter, as replacement for Mujeeeb-ur-Rahman.

Afghanistan sealed their spot in the Super Eight stage after beating PNG. They will face West Indies in their final group game on Tuesday at 5:00 AM (Afghanistan time).

 

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Kabul Zalmi crowned champions of KPL 2024

Batting first after winning the toss, Band-e-Amir Stars posted 169-10 off 20 overs in the Ayoubi Sports Complex in Kabul.

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Kabul Zalmi defeated Band-e-Amir Stars by 7 wickets in the final on Friday and won the championship title of the City Medical Complex Kabul Premier League 2024.

Batting first after winning the toss, Band-e-Amir Stars posted 169-10 off 20 overs in the Ayoubi Sports Complex in Kabul.

Kabul Zalmi chased down the target by 7 wickets in 18.5 overs and won the second edition of the tournament.

Mohammad Sabir led the chase with an excellent half century, while Mohammad Akram scored 41 runs. Masoud Gurbaz added 31 off 22. Captain Qais Ahmad chipped in with 18 off 11.

Six teams, including Band-e-Amir Stars, Shaheen Hunters, Shamshad Eagles, Kabul Knight Riders, Ayoubi Kabul Zalmi and Speenghar Warriors took part in the 20-over tournament which run for 11 days.

The matches were broadcast live and exclusively on Ariana Television.

 

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Afghanistan down PNG to reach Super Eight, end NZ hopes

Rashid and his left-arm wrist spinning partner Noor Ahmad took over after the power play, consistently bamboozling the batsmen as they swung hopefully but ineffectually at the ball.

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Afghanistan beat Papua New Guinea by seven wickets in Trinidad on Thursday to reach the Super Eight stage of the Twenty20 World Cup with a game to spare and end New Zealand’s slim hopes of progressing.

The Afghans had already effectively eliminated New Zealand after defeating them by 84 runs in Georgetown, and on Thursday they confirmed that they pose a threat to any opponent with another accomplished all-round display.

Spearheaded by standout left-arm seamer Fazalhaq Farooqi, the Afghan bowlers kept opponents under 100 runs for the third time in their three matches in the tournament, dismissing the Papuans, who had four batsmen run out, for 95.

Penetrating bowling from Alei Nao and Semo Kamea on a lively surface ensured the run chase was not straightforward but Gulbadin Naib’s 49 from 36 deliveries steered the Afghans safely to their target at 101-3 inside 16 overs.

“I want to congratulate all the people of Afghanistan because we have now officially qualified for the Super Eight and I feel proud,” said Farooqi, who was named Player of the Match for his 3-16.

“We just keep it simple and give 100%.”

After Rashid Khan had won the toss and opted to field first, his opposite number Assad Vala was the first man dismissed, run out for three after committing the elementary error of making his ground but leaving his bat in the air.

Farooqi, the tournament’s leading wicket taker, increased his tally by two from consecutive balls and Naveen-ul-Haq struck immediately from the other end to reduce Papua New Guinea to 17 for four.

Rashid and his left-arm wrist spinning partner Noor Ahmad took over after the power play, consistently bamboozling the batsmen as they swung hopefully but ineffectually at the ball.

The result was a second run out with both batsmen stranded at the same end and it was Chad Soper (9) who was forced to leave.

A third run out followed when Norman Vanua departed for a duck when his bat got stuck in the pitch as he tried to slide it past the crease.

Kiplin Doriga offered some resistance, hitting two fours to reach 27, but almost inevitably the innings ended with a final runout when Semo Kamea (2) was stranded with a ball remaining.

Papua New Guinea struck swiftly, dismissing openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz (11) and Ibrahim Zadran (0), who had shared century partnerships against Uganda and New Zealand.

But Naib and Mohammad Nabi calmed their team’s nerves by rotating the strike with a series of quick singles, taking Afghanistan past the 50 mark when they began to play more expansively, Naib ending the match in style with a six.

The Afghans progressed along with co-hosts West Indies, who they meet in their final round-robin match in St Lucia on Monday to decide who tops Group C.

 

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