Afghanistan cricketers beat Ugandan challenge by 125 runs to start T20 World Cup campaign

Afghanistan. Photo Courtesy: ICC X page

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IBNS-CMDIA: Afghanistan cricketers began their World Cup campaign with a strong show against Uganda by beating the Afghacan squad by 125 runs in their T20 World Cup opening match on Tuesday.

The match was highlighted by a resounding display of batting from Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran, whose explosive opening partnership set the tone for Afghanistan’s dominance.

Gurbaz, who hammered 76 off 45 balls, including four fours and four sixes, ignited Afghanistan’s innings with an aggressive start, blazing through the powerplay. His partner, Zadran, matched his intensity, scoring 70 off 46 balls with nine boundaries and a six, forming an imposing opening stand of over 150 runs.

Even though Uganda managed a late surge in their bowling, claiming some key wickets towards the end of Afghanistan’s innings, the damage was already done. Afghanistan posted a formidable total of 183, a challenging target given their lethal spin and pace attack. The early onset of dew further tilted the balance in Afghanistan’s favor, making it an even tougher chase for Uganda.

Afghanistan’s bowling attack was spearheaded by Fazalhaq Farooqi, who delivered a game-changing performance by taking wickets on consecutive deliveries in his first over, setting the tone for Uganda’s downfall. Mujeeb Ur Rahman quickly followed with another wicket, and Naveen-ul-Haq compounded Uganda’s troubles with a double strike, leaving them in tatters.

Uganda’s innings saw a brief period of stability, but Farooqi returned with renewed vigor, achieving a remarkable hat-trick by claiming three wickets in a single over, effectively sealing Uganda’s fate. The final nails in the coffin were hammered in by Rashid Khan, who cleaned up the tail to wrap up Uganda’s innings.

Earlier in the match, Afghanistan appeared poised for an even larger total. At 154 for no loss in the 15th over, they were cruising towards a potential 200+ score. Gurbaz had set the tone with a six off the second ball of the innings, and Zadran had capitalized on this momentum, at one point hitting Bilal Hasan for four consecutive boundaries.

The openers brought up their fifties and kept the scoreboard ticking with a risk-free approach, offering no chances to the Ugandan fielders. However, the game took a dramatic turn when Uganda’s captain Brian Masaba bowled Zadran as he attempted a big shot. This breakthrough sparked a spirited comeback for the African side, who claimed four crucial wickets in the next four overs, including Gurbaz, Gulbadin Naib, and Najibullah Zadran for single figures.

The momentum shifted, and Afghanistan managed only 27 runs in the last five overs, falling short of the 200-mark that had seemed within reach. Despite this late stumble, their total proved more than sufficient as their bowlers dismantled Uganda’s batting lineup with ruthless efficiency.

Afghanistan’s comprehensive victory underscored their all-round strength and left Uganda with much to ponder as they reflected on a match where they were outplayed in all departments.