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It’s down-to-the-wire for ILT20 teams as playoffs loom

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(Last Updated On: February 7, 2023)

An intense battle of nerves and skills will be on display when the DP World International League T20 playoffs begin on Wednesday at the Dubai International Stadium in the UAE.

First up will be table toppers Gulf Giants against second placed Desert Vipers in Qualifier 1 on February 8 (Wednesday) at the Dubai International Stadium while MI Emirates challenge Dubai Capitals in the Eliminator at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on February 9 (Thursday).

No team can be assured of a victory as it hasn’t been a smooth ride for them into the playoffs with all four having tasted defeats during the course of the competition.

Gulf Giants stand tall with only one defeat against Sharjah Warriors who were eliminated in the last league round match. All others have lost over three matches.

Every team will have to produce their best to advance to the final. Given that each of the four teams have internationally acclaimed limited over cricket players, they can be expected to turn the course of the match any moment.

The DP World ILT20 with a total prize pot of $1.3 million will see the winners walk away with a whopping $700,000 while the runners-up receive $300,000.

Gulf Giants are however table toppers and their skipper James Vince leads from the front with 321 runs from eight matches at an average of 45.85.

In addition they have David Wiese, who is the highest wicket-taker with 15 wickets. The other giants in the team are strike bowlers Chris Jordan, the indomitable hard-hitter Shimron Hetmyer, and two UAE players – Sanchit Sharma and 17-year-old Ayan Khan.

Speaking about his team’s success so far, Vince said: “We play every game to try and win it. Great to see guys come in and do well. Conditions will be different for the Wednesday game, but we will approach that match in the best way possible.”

Desert Vipers however have proven that they can sting their opponents hard. They have Alex Hales, the highest run getter of the tournament so far with 465 runs and an average of 58.12, the consistent Sam Billings and bowlers Sheldon Cottrell and Wanindu Hasranga. UAE players Rohan Mustafa and Shiraz Ahmed have also performed well.

The team’s captain, Colin Munro, said: “Everyone has been unbelievable. From the background staff, going back to people in the commercial office, guys doing the media stuff, everyone that’s part of the family. We set out the tournament as a new franchise, as a new team, and we’re trying to make it to the final, and we’re on our way there.”

MI Emirates on the other hand is a mix of youth and experience and they have West Indies giant Kieron Pollard as their skipper.

He is backed by his countrymen Andre Fletcher and Nicholas Pooran who can take their team to victory on their day.

In addition there is the UAE’s pride and joy – the consistent performer and opener Muhammad Waseem, with his national teammate Zahoor Khan, while veterans Dwayne Bravo and Imran Tahir have encouraged everyone in the team to give their best.

When asked about the team’s approach, Pollard said: “It’s just a matter of understanding and easing the pressure on the boys in the new franchise so that they can understand their roles. We basically break it down for them. It’s a matter of putting all the pieces of the puzzle together and playing exciting cricket that MI is known to play.”

Last but not least is Dubai Capitals who clinched the last spot in the playoffs, when they pulled off a seven-wicket win against MI Emirates. They have batsmen who can turn the course of the match at any time with the likes of experienced Robin Uthappa, George Munsey, Dasun Shanaka and Rovman Powell at the top. All-rounder Sikandar Raza’s contribution has also been immense.

In addition, they have UAE strike bowlers Hazrat Luqman and Akif Raja, along with Jake Ball and Fred Klaassen, who are capable of restricting any opponent.

Yusuf Pathan, who stepped in as skipper from the last match said: “It feels great to be in the playoffs. The group is confident as well. We played really well in our last match. We need to continue doing the good things we did against MI Emirates. We have played well against them in both our league stage matches.”

Match officials

The ILT20 playoffs will also witness some of the world’s most renowned match officials in action. Roshan Mahanama and Alex Wharf will be the on-field umpires for Qualifier 1, while Richard Kettleborough and Leslie Reifer will be officiating as the third and fourth umpires in the game. Meanwhile, Shiju Mannil will be the match referee for the match at the Dubai International Stadium on Wednesday.

The Eliminator game will see Simon Taufel and Richard Kettleborough as on-field umpires. Ruchira Palliyaguruge and Martin Saggers will be the third and fourth umpires. Akbar Ali Khan will officiate as the match referee at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Thursday.

Roshan Mahanama and Leslie Reifer will be the on-field umpires in Qualifier 2. Martin Saggers and Alex Wharf will support them as third and fourth umpires, while Shiju Mannil will be the match referee for the game at the Dubai International Stadium on Friday.

Simon Taufel and Richard Kettleborough will take charge as on-field umpires in the final. Meanwhile, Alex Wharf and Leslie Reifer will be the third and fourth umpires. Ruchira Palliyaguruge will be the match referee for the final at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.

Cricket fans across Afghanistan can meanwhile tune in and watch the playoffs live, exclusively on Ariana Television. For the broadcasting schedule CLICK HERE

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Afghanistan’s T20 squad against Pakistan announced

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(Last Updated On: March 21, 2023)

Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) on Tuesday named a 17-member squad, led by Rashid Khan, for the three-match T20I series against Pakistan, which starts in Sharjah later this week.

According to the ACB, Mohammad Nabi, the team’s former captain, has been recalled while left-handed opener Sediqullah Atal has been added to the squad.

Atal could be a potential debutant for Afghanistan in the series, said ACB.

Nijat Masoud and Zahir Khan who were part of the Afghanistan squad during the UAE tour last month have been kept as reserves, while Rahmat Shah and Hazratullah Zazai have been excluded.

“Our team has been working hard in training camp and selectors have selected the best available players for the series. I am confident that our team will perform at their best and make our nation proud. We wish our team the best of luck for the series and hope to see them emerge victorious,” ACB CEO Naseeb Khan said.

“In addition, we look forward to an exciting competition between two great teams. Both nations have passionate fans who support their teams with enthusiasm and pride. As neighbors, we have a special bond and we hope to showcase not only our cricketing skills but also the spirit of friendship and sportsmanship. We wish both teams the best of luck and hope that cricket fans around the world will enjoy the games,” he added.

Afghanistan Squad: Rashid Khan (C), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (WK), Ibrahim Zadran, Usman Ghani, Sediqullah Atal, Najibullah Zadran, Afsar Zazai, Karim Janat, Mohammad Nabi, Azmatullah Omarzai, Gulbadin Naib, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Noor Ahmad, Mujeeb Ur Rehman, Fareed Ahmad, Fazal Haq Farooqi and Naveen Ul Haq.

Reserve players include Nangyal Kharoti, Zahir Khan and Nijat Masoud.

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Afghanistan beat Bangladesh by 7 wickets in U-19 Tri-Series opener

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(Last Updated On: March 18, 2023)

Afghanistan defeated Bangladesh by 7 wickets in the first match of Under-19 Tri-Series in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

Batting first after winning the toss, Bangladesh made 75 runs before they were bowled out in the 22.5 overs.

Bashir Ahmad picked up four wickets while Kamran Hotak took three. Khalil Ahmad followed with two wickets.

Afghanistan chased down the target in the 9.5 overs, as Suhail Khan made 33 and Mohammad Haroon added 21.

Afghanistan will face Sri Lanka in their next match of the series on Wednesday.

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Bangladesh U19s levels ODI series 1-1 against Afghanistan U19s

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(Last Updated On: March 15, 2023)

Bangladesh Under-19s defeated Afghanistan Under-19s by 63 runs in the second ODI in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday to end the two-match series 1-1.

Batting first after winning the toss, Bangladesh posted 231 runs before they were all out after 49.3 overs in Abu Dhabi.

Mohammad Shihab James was their top-scorer with 98. He was followed by Paevez Rahman Jibon who made 48.

Yama Arab picked up four wickets for Afghanistan, while Faraidoon Dawoodzai took two.

In reply, Afghanistan made 168 before they were all out in the 45.4 overs. 88 of their total was scored by Sohail Khan.

Both teams along with the Sri Lanka U19s will now feature in a Tri-Series starting this Saturday in Abu Dhabi.

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