By Mohammad Qahir Zamani-
AT-KABUL: Afghanistan’s 2017 domestic T-20 Cricket League, Shpageeza, ended peacefully Friday, with Band-e-Amir Dragons winning the championship in final game by beating the Mis Ainak Knights by 4 runs, with last ball, bowled by oversee player, TL Chatara of Zimbabwe.
In the final match, played in Kabul International Cricket Stadium, the Dragons bat first and put a total of 158 in 20 overs on the board with losing 7 wickets, with Javed Ahmadi scoring 55 of 39 balls. In its turn the Knights only managed to score 154 in 20 overs with losing 7 wickets, with Sikandar Raza of Zimbabwe scoring 40 of 29 as top runner, but that was not enough and the knights lost by four runs with no ball spared.
This way among the six teams of the tournament, Dragons secured the 1st position, Knights came on second position, Kabul Eagles on 3rd, Boast Defenders on 4th, Speen-Ghar Tigers on 5th and the Amo-Sharks in bottom of the list, each team had at least three oversee players in the league.
The championship trophy was given to the young player, Rashid Khan, captain of Dragons. It is a “special moment” Khan said while receiving the trophy. “It is a big pleasure to play in front of home crowd, I enjoyed a lot” the player said, who has been playing in leading world T-20 leagues, including the IPL of India.
The young bowler of the Knights, Zahir Khan was awarded the trophy of the Emerging Player of the series.
And Chatara of Zimbabwe, who defended 12 in last over of the final to win championship for his team, was selected as Best Bowler of the series with taking 13 wickets in the tournament.
Asghar Stanekzai was given award of the Best Batsman of the tournament, who scored 250 for his team in his all played matches. “This was a good experience for our young players to play with the oversee players” Stanekzai, who is captain of the Kabul Eagles in Shpageeza and also skipper of the Afghanistan National Cricket Team, said while receiving the award.
Karim Sadiq of the Eagles was selected as Best Player of the league for his performance.
The 5th edition of Shpageeza this year was exceptional with presence of around 30 oversee players and coaches from Zimbabwe, South Africa, West Indies, Sri-Lanka, England, Australia … , with a good commentary of foreign commentators, particularly, Australian, Dean Jones. Jones was widely praised by Afghan fans for his courage to stay back after a blast outside the gates of the ground terrorized the crowed and players in the stadium during a match on the 3rd day of the tournament.
The next day of the blast instead of leaving a negative impact on the games, the blast resulted to motivate more than usual crowd to flock to the stadium to show sport-lovers never fear of terrorists and will never surrender to their atrocities.
Despite the fear of terrorist attacks thousands of inspectors on daily bases flocked to the stadium, and patiently waited for hours in long lines to get in after undergoing body security checks outside the main entrances of the ground.
“I have been coming here to watch the games every day, that is only thing I can do to tell the terrorists that we are not to be afraid of their bombings, they can kill us but they cannot stop us” Yusuf Khan,26 , a fan of the crick told Afghanistan Times.
“We believe in our security forces, therefore we came here to watch the game live here” Ahmad Gul, 18 another inspector of the cricket said.
The tournament was held under tight security measures, with a wide area covered as security zone in order not to let any terrorist incident to affect the series.
“Fortunately with the mercy of Allah, the Shpageeza cricket league is held and ended peacefully” Farid Hotak, the spokesman for the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) told the closing ceremony.
The colorful closing ceremony was attended by several Afghan officials, politicians and cricket lovers, even several ministers joined the players to perform Attan- Afghan National Dance- in the ground with live traditional music, being performed by traditional musicians, with Air Force’s choppers circling ahead over the ground to drop the congratulatory placards on the inspectors.