Afghanistan vs. Hong Kong: Standout Stars from World T20 Clash

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistMarch 18, 2014

Afghanistan batsman Mohammad Shahzad acknowledges the crowd after scoring fifty runs during their ICC Twenty20 Cricket World Cup match against Hong Kong in Chittagong, Bangladesh, Tuesday, March 18, 2014 . (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
Bikas Das/Associated Press

Afghanistan rallied from Sunday's defeat against Bangladesh to claim their first World Twenty20 win just two days later, beating Hong Kong by a wide margin to move up in the Group A standings.

Captain Mohammed Nabi led the second-tier nation to a rousing victory, allowing the dominant party to once again benefit their reputation on the world stage. The final score stood at Hong Kong 153-8, Afghanistan 154-3.

The Afghan stars of this side will undoubtedly face more difficult challenges in the days to come, but a select crop of players stood out more than the rest at Mirpur's Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on Tuesday, leaving no room for Hong Kong's hopefuls.

For a full scorecard and match details, you can visit ESPNcricinfo.


Mohammad Shahzad

No player racked up more runs against Hong Kong than Afghan heavy hitter Mohammad Shahzad: The 26-year-old managed to knock for 68 off 53 balls.

A.M. Ahad/Associated Press

Shahzad hasn't enjoyed his most fruitful form of late, having not managed a score above 22 in his last five T20 outings, but that sorry streak was put firmly to bed on Tuesday.

As part of the opening partnership alongside Najeeb Tarakai, there was a burden placed upon the Shahzad to deliver, and his running tally did just that.

As OptaJim shows, Shahzad was in dire need of a big response, too, having been dismissed in a most unceremonious fashion against Bangladesh:

In total, the wicket-keeper claimed nine boundaries, six of which were fours and the other three being sixes.



Aijaz Rahi/Associated Press

Not far behind Shahzad in the batting ranks came Shafiqullah, whose impressive score of 51 is made all that much more so when one considers it was claimed from just 24 balls.

It was thanks to the 24-year-old that Afghanistan rounded off their day, with Shafiqullah managing to evade the opposition's best attempts on his wicket.

Shafiqullah also claimed three sixes, but was one behind figurehead Shahzad in other aspects, claiming just five fours. 


Mohammed Nabi

A.M. Ahad/Associated Press

For all the glitz that surrounded the performances of the aforementioned batting duo, Mohammed Nabi's outing against Hong Kong was of the more industrious variety.

Following Sunday's loss to Bangladesh, ESPNcricinfo's Alan Gardner quoted Nabi saying that his side needed to recover quickly from their defeat:

Yesterday was a bad day for the Afghanistan cricket team. Bangladesh asserted their home advantages quite brilliantly and they were the better team. We are working since the Asia Cup to prove our existence on the biggest stage, unfortunately we couldn't repeat our performance last night. But our aim is to prove our supremacy among the Associates and Affiliate members and we would like a much better performance in the upcoming games.

On Tuesday, the leader helped his teammates do just that.

Captain Nabi only managed to make six runs, stepping to the crease just as Shafiqullah was coming to the end of his heroic display.

Yet the T20 veteran of some four years took two wickets from four overs of bowling, conceding 27 runs in the process.