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Afghanistan celebrates historic win against Pakistan

10 wounded after Afghans celebrated cricket victory by firing bullets into air; 88 detained in connection

By Farhad Naibkhel

KABUL: Afghanistan geared up for the first warmup match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England and Wales with a brilliant performance against Pakistan in Bristol, prevailing by three wickets in a tight affair.

Afghanistan pinned their opponents to 262 all out thanks to a dominant bowling effort, and despite a masterful Babar Azam ton, Hazratullah Zazai’s 28-ball 49 and 74 from Hashmatullah Shahidi saw Gulbadin Naib’s side reach their target with just two balls to spare in a thrilling finish on Friday, 24 May.

It was another disappointing outing for Pakistan, having been beaten in their last 10 ODIs prior to this fixture.

Hamid Hassan cleaned up the in-form Imam-ul-Haq (32) however, prompting jubilant roars from the Afghan supporters. A double-strike from Mohammad Nabi (3/46) then shifted the momentum in favour of Afghanistan.

Fakhar Zaman (19) was lured into a drive and bowled through the gate, before Haris Sohail played down the wrong line, exposing a slither of his off-stump, sufficient room for Nabi to hone in and dislodge the bails once again.

Azam then began to accumulate in style, unperturbed by the wickets falling around him. He brought up his 50 from 51, before reaching his century from 99, Shoaib Malik’s 44 providing adequate support and helping to steady the ship in the middle overs.

Nabi, grabbing his third wicket, then forced Malik to hole out as he looked to accelerate, and Pakistan collapsed from 203/4 in the 38th over to a disappointing 262 all out.

Rashid Khan was imperious in his efforts, dismissing the experienced duo of Sarfaraz Ahmed (13) and Mohammad Hafeez (12) in a nine-over spell which yielded just 27 runs. Babar’s dismissal in the 46th over quelled any chance of a late run-surge.

In reply, Afghanistan got off to a swift start. Mohammad Shahzad (23*) did leave the field as a precaution after feeling pain in his left knee, having got his innings under way fluently, but his partner Zazai remained in a free-scoring mood. He smashed Shaheen Shah Afridi (0/51) for five fours in the fourth over but fell one short of 50 after skying Imad Wasim, Malik taking an excellent running catch from deep mid-wicket.

The classy Rahmat Shah chipped in with 32 before edging behind down leg, gifting Wahab Riaz (3/46) his first wicket, and two quick scalps from the economical Wasim (2/29) helped plug the run-flow somewhat in the middle overs. Samiullah Shinwari (22) departed just as he had begun to find his rhythm, and the run-rate started to rise as Pakistan could sense a potential comeback.

Three wickets in 10 balls then ensued as Sarfaraz’s side probed successfully and Afghanistan began to flounder, Wahab’s brace of wickets rocking the batting side.

Still, Shahidi was at his watchful best, calmly manoeuvering the ball around the park and guiding his side to their target. With four needed from the final over, and Rashid for company, they confirmed victory with two balls to spare.

As the members of the Afghan National Cricket Team started celebrating their win against Pakistan, adoring fans at hoe erupted in celebration by firing bullets into air.

Minutes after victory flying of air gunfire started covered Kabul city’s sky and some provinces at around 9:40pm Friday night.

Though beating Pakistan was tidbit news for the Afghan people, but celebratory firings caused tragedy for some families as it left 10 people wounded in Kabul, Nangarhar and Khost provinces.

Ministry of Interior Spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told Afghanistan Times that health condition of one of the wounded people has been critical.

Police officers apprehended 43 people with weapons in connection of firings in Kabul, 31 others with weapons in Nangarhar and 14 others along with their weapons in Khost provinces.  

Moreover, the interior ministry also issued a statement, saying they detained suspects with their weapons soon after they started celebratory firings.

The ministry suggested the people to avoid such irresponsible and illegal acts during celebrating victories and have warned people of serous reaction if they caught red-handed.

Most of Kabul residents showed their anger of stupid way to celebrate victory by bullets. It is a shameful way. This brings nothing but disturbances and distress to the people. Afghans across country by using social media expressed their disagreement against such sort of celebrations, terming it a matter of concern.

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