The Cricket Post
The Afghanistan Youth Cricket Association (AYCA) team has won the final of DR. M. A. Shah Lephone Night Trophy (Ramadan Cup) in Pakistan after beating the strong AO Blues Cricket Club by 61 runs.
AYCA stunned the heavyweight AO Blues that included some fine international Pakistani players as Rana Navid, Imran Nazir and Rizwan Ahmed by 61 runs to walk away with the Ramadan Cup title. The Afghan side includes 7 current and two former national players of the Afghan national squad.
Afghanistan Youth received a Suzuki Alto car (worth more than 7000 USD) as a prize for winning the trophy. The runner up was given a Suzuki Mehran that was worth around 5000 USD. Hamid Hassan was selected as the best bowler of the tournament and received a motorcycle and a mobile phone for his excellence. He grabbed the title after taking three wonderful wickets in the final. Mohammad Shahzad was named man of the tournament and received a motorcycle, mobile phone, and a trophy for his performance through the tournament. Shahzad managed 59 runs in the final match.
Earlier in the match, Afghanistan Youth's captain Khaliqdad Noori won the toss and elected to bat first. The Afghan side has gone extremely aggressive from the start hitting four from the first ball of the match was followed with fours and sixes throughout the match by Shahzad, Asghar Stanakzai and later Samiullah Shinwari. Shahzad scored 59, Asghar 43 and Samiullah 23.
In a fully packed stadium with more than twenty thousand spectators (mostly Afghan supporters), Afghanistan Youth set a high target of 158 runs that was very difficult for AO Blues to chase, particularly after they lost their first wicket from the first ball of the innings to Abdullah Mazari and the second wicket in the same over. Hamid Hassan and Mohammad Nabi took 3 wickets each while Abdullah Mazari took two and Shahpoor took the last wicket.
Hamid Hassan who took three of the four last crucial wickets said, "We were shocked at the support we had in this tournament and for the final there was no way we were going to let our people down". The allrounder said that the way the Afghanis living in Karachi had turned out for the tournament showed just how much interest the Afghani people had in cricket in an interview with a local newspaper. "I think this final is proof enough that Afghanistan cricket needs to be given respect by other cricket playing nations and they should give us more matches," Asghar Stanikzai said.
Captain Khalidad Noor says "participation in this club-level event is a small step from our side". He says his country was ready to play international cricket in Pakistan at a time when security fears have stopped most teams touring the terror-hit nation.