HYDERABAD: The Afghanistan cricket team got off to a flying start in the first one-day match of its Pakistan tour as they beat Karachi-Hyderabad Regional XI by nine wickets.
Paceman Hamza Hotak was the standout performer for the tourists taking five wickets, while batsman Mohammad Shahzad scored 58 runs to help the Afghan team romp to victory.
The match was played at the Niaz Stadium in Hyderabad, which hosted the first foreign cricket team on the ground after Zimbabwe’s match against Pakistan in 2007.
The host team, captained by star cricketer Shahid Afridi, won the toss and opted to bat. But the team failed to perform against the Afghan bowlers and crumbled at 112 runs in 37.5 overs as Hatok cut through the batting line-up by claiming five wickets for only 15 runs.
No batsman was able to hold on their wicket. Afridi was a disappointment for all the spectators who had come to watch him bat, hitting only a single boundary and scoring 16 runs on 29 balls before he was caught mid-wicket by Dollat Zadran.
Meanwhile, Mohtashim Ali and Mohamamd Sami were the highest scorers with 21 runs each. Ali was bowled out by Hatok while Sami was caught at long-off by Afsar Zazai on Izatullah Dawlatzai’s delivery. Aqeel Anjum scored 18 runs and Zafar Ali 15 to take the team’s total to 112 runs.
The Afghan batting side got off well right from the start, taking the first-wicket partnership to 84 runs. Mohammad Shahzad’s half century from 32 balls propelled the tourists to a dominating position. He scored 58 runs off 35 balls with two sixes and eight boundaries before he was given leg before in Atif Maqbool’s over.
Opening batsman Karim Sadiq remained not out with 36 runs, while Mohammad Javed contributed 15 runs to complete the target of 113 runs in 18.4 overs.
Afghanistan are on a month long visit to neigbours Pakistan. They will play eight one-day matches with regional teams and the Pakistan A side.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2013.
Correction: In an earlier version of this story, Hamza Hotak’s second name was misspelled. The correction has been made.