Afghanistan’s rise in international cricket took yet another surge after they stunned Pakistan by five wickets at Whangarei on Saturday in the first day of the Under-19 World Cup.
After electing to bat, Pakistan batsmen struggled with wicketkeeper Rohail Nazir waging a lone fight with a battling 81 as the team managed only 188. Medium-pacer Azmatullah Omarzai (3/34) and leg-spinner Qais Ahmad (3/38) wrecked the middle-order after Naveen-ul-Haq (2/30) wrecked the top order.
Afghanistan were in trouble after being reduced to 50/3 in the 15th over but the hard-hitting Darwish Rasooli (78 not out) and wicketkeeper Ikram Ali Khil (46) put up a valuable 75-run stand for the fourth wicket to put their side on course to victory. Rasooli rallied with the lower middle-order to take his side home with 15 balls to spare.
The Afghanistan U-19 side have been creating ripples in recent times. Leading up to the tournament, they once again beat Pakistan – by a mammoth 185-run margin – to clinch the Asia U-19 Cup in November last year. They had also beaten Rahul Dravid’s Indian side during their dream run in Kuala Lampur.