Cricket World Cup 2019: Battleground Afghanistan-Pakistan

Related News Keep calm and Carey on: How footie’s loss was Aussie cricket’s gain Cricket World Cup 2019: Fly in the ointment Sarfaraz Ahmed has the ability to win World Cup 2019: Azhar Ali A group of Afghanistan fans clashed with Pakistan supporters during the match between the two teams in Leeds on Saturday. (Reuters) Afghanistan lost, Pakistan won and a new cricketing rivalry is born. The others — England vs Australia, or India vs Pakistan, or the World vs England — has now been dwarfed by the latest. Advertising Scenes similar to football hooliganism erupted at the Leeds cricket ground in Yorkshire in a game that Pakistan squeezed through in a last-over thriller that will be remembered for a long time, especially in Afghanistan. At the start of the match, the fans from both countries clashed; irrespective of who started the fire, it all got ugly very quickly, ending in physical blows and the police had to intervene. It was apparently triggered by the sight of a plane with a banner tailing in the air about ‘Justice for Balochistan’. Now, Leeds Air Traffic control will investigate how that plane was able to fly over the stadium with the message. There is a reason why Afghanistan president Ashraf Ghani visited the tomb of the great philosopher-poet from Pakistan Allamah Muhammad Iqbal on Friday in Lahore. The poet was fond of Afghanistan and realised as early as 1910 that the region’s peace depends on the country. In a private notebook, that year, he penned a poem: “Asia is a body of water and clay, of which the Afghan nation forms the heart . The body is free only as long as the heart is free. The heart dies with hatred but lives with faith.” Advertising In his peace moves, Ghani paid his respects to the poet, who died in 1938, and has also met the prime minister Imran Khan. The heart, in Iqbal’s words, is in trouble, politically. The heart is also in a delirious mood, cricketing wise. The heart is also in raging in rumours, though. *** When Mohammad Shahzad flew home from the tournament, he claimed he wasn’t injured as the management had said him to be. “If they don’t want me to play cricket, I will quit,” he had said. Afghanistan Times, a newspaper, even quoted Shahzad as saying that there were accusations against him that he doesn’t play honestly against Pakistan and that he is in the team working for someone. He smelt a conspiracy and also said that was the reason why Asghar Afghan, the captain who was sacked days before the tournament, wasn’t being played despite being fit in the initial games. Asghar Afghan had also changed his name from Asghar Stanikzai to give himself a pan-country image. Ever since the country introduced E-Tazkera (electronic identity cards), there has been debate and also a lot of name changes. Zai are Pashtun tribes in Pakistan and Afghanistan and in a journalist’s telling, “the name changes, not just limited to Asghar, is widespread among citizens. It’s the mood in the country.” Best Of Express Resignation spree continues in Cong, Nana Patole, 35 UP leaders put in papers LiveNew Zealand vs Australia: NZ lose way in chase of 244 Roll out ‘one nation, one ration card' in a year, Centre tells states The mood in the country, Kabul at least, according to Javed Hamim Kakar, a senior editor at ‘Pajhwok Afghan’ is a mixed bitter-sweet feeling. Some happy that their team made Pakistan sweat, and some angry that they couldn’t just get through. *** The cricket stadium in Kabul and other parks in Jalalabad have been showing cricket on big screens and they would have gasped when the captain Gulbadin Naib brought himself on for the 46th over. Imad hugs Riaz after hitting the winning runs against Afghanistan. The equation was 44 from 5 overs. He went for 18 in that over – as Pakistan’s hero Imad Wasim crashed him away for the match-turning over. The spinner Samiullah Shinwari had just given away 2 runs in the 45th over. Did Naib have an option? Rashid Khan had two overs, Mujeeb ur Rehman had one, but Hamid Hasan, their fast bowler, was injured after just two overs. More Explained Explained: How US coined 'Indo-Pacific' to redefine geo-politics Could he have given one over to Rashid here and got Shinwari from the other end? In the 41st over Shinwari had given away just 4 runs. He was then brought back for 45th; 2 runs. But as things would turn out, he wouldn’t get a over again. In an effort to try preserve Rashid for the last overs, Naib chose to bring himself on. “We were waiting for

Cricket World Cup 2019: Battleground Afghanistan-Pakistan
Battleground Af-Pak
A group of Afghanistan fans clashed with Pakistan supporters during the match between the two teams in Leeds on Saturday. (Reuters)

Afghanistan lost, Pakistan won and a new cricketing rivalry is born. The others — England vs Australia, or India vs Pakistan, or the World vs England — has now been dwarfed by the latest.

Scenes similar to football hooliganism erupted at the Leeds cricket ground in Yorkshire in a game that Pakistan squeezed through in a last-over thriller that will be remembered for a long time, especially in Afghanistan.

At the start of the match, the fans from both countries clashed; irrespective of who started the fire, it all got ugly very quickly, ending in physical blows and the police had to intervene. It was apparently triggered by the sight of a plane with a banner tailing in the air about ‘Justice for Balochistan’. Now, Leeds Air Traffic control will investigate how that plane was able to fly over the stadium with the message.

There is a reason why Afghanistan president Ashraf Ghani visited the tomb of the great philosopher-poet from Pakistan Allamah Muhammad Iqbal on Friday in Lahore. The poet was fond of Afghanistan and realised as early as 1910 that the region’s peace depends on the country. In a private notebook, that year, he penned a poem: “Asia is a body of water and clay, of which the Afghan nation forms the heart . The body is free only as long as the heart is free. The heart dies with hatred but lives with faith.”

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In his peace moves, Ghani paid his respects to the poet, who died in 1938, and has also met the prime minister Imran Khan.

The heart, in Iqbal’s words, is in trouble, politically. The heart is also in a delirious mood, cricketing wise. The heart is also in raging in rumours, though.

***

When Mohammad Shahzad flew home from the tournament, he claimed he wasn’t injured as the management had said him to be. “If they don’t want me to play cricket, I will quit,” he had said. Afghanistan Times, a newspaper, even quoted Shahzad as saying that there were accusations against him that he doesn’t play honestly against Pakistan and that he is in the team working for someone. He smelt a conspiracy and also said that was the reason why Asghar Afghan, the captain who was sacked days before the tournament, wasn’t being played despite being fit in the initial games.

Asghar Afghan had also changed his name from Asghar Stanikzai to give himself a pan-country image. Ever since the country introduced E-Tazkera (electronic identity cards), there has been debate and also a lot of name changes. Zai are Pashtun tribes in Pakistan and Afghanistan and in a journalist’s telling, “the name changes, not just limited to Asghar, is widespread among citizens. It’s the mood in the country.”

The mood in the country, Kabul at least, according to Javed Hamim Kakar, a senior editor at ‘Pajhwok Afghan’ is a mixed bitter-sweet feeling. Some happy that their team made Pakistan sweat, and some angry that they couldn’t just get through.

***

The cricket stadium in Kabul and other parks in Jalalabad have been showing cricket on big screens and they would have gasped when the captain Gulbadin Naib brought himself on for the 46th over.

Battleground Af-Pak
Imad hugs Riaz after hitting the winning runs against Afghanistan.

The equation was 44 from 5 overs. He went for 18 in that over – as Pakistan’s hero Imad Wasim crashed him away for the match-turning over.

The spinner Samiullah Shinwari had just given away 2 runs in the 45th over. Did Naib have an option? Rashid Khan had two overs, Mujeeb ur Rehman had one, but Hamid Hasan, their fast bowler, was injured after just two overs.

Could he have given one over to Rashid here and got Shinwari from the other end? In the 41st over Shinwari had given away just 4 runs. He was then brought back for 45th; 2 runs. But as things would turn out, he wouldn’t get a over again. In an effort to try preserve Rashid for the last overs, Naib chose to bring himself on. “We were waiting for fast bowlers to come,” Imad Wasim would say later. Wasim would also talk about how he couldn’t pick Rashid. Naib’s move to keep Rashid for end didn’t work as he ended up serving a full toss, a wide, a short-and-wide one, a length outside off and 18 runs were looted. Now 28 from 24 and though Rashid Khan took a wicket, he gave 10 runs in the 47th over.

Mujeeb brought it back with just two runs but Wahab Riaz, playing with a fractured finger, went down his knees to smash Rashid over the cow corner in the second ball of the 49th. And Imad Wasim finished it off in the final over, with two balls to spare, with a hit to cover boundary.

Until then, Pakistan had threatened to make a mess of it. Some were due to the brilliance of Afghanistan bowlers like Rashid who befuddled the likes of Haris Sohail. And Mohammad Nabi who took out Babar Azam. Some were downright bad decisions made under pressure, like Sarfraz Ahmed running himself out in the 39th over. A desperate push for the second – greed and silliness combined in pressure and the captain was out. That should have been the final nail but Pakistan, as ever, found a hero to revive. Imad Wasim. Also, a hero to crunch two powerful game-turning blows in Wahab Riaz.

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Iqbal once wrote: “Mohabbat Mujhay un Jawanon say hay, Sitaron pay jo daltay hain qamand ( I love those young people who aim at stars). Afghanistan dared to dream and look at the starts but were just about brought back to earth by Pakistan.

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