Mohammad Nabi claimed his maiden ODI hundred in this series. He was named Man of the Series as well, with 223 runs from five matches. And he seems to have found purpose in the Afghanistan batting order again since being promoted to No. 3. But very little compared to the high of a series victory over a Test-playing nation.
“We made history. It’s the first time in 200 years of cricket that we [an Associate team] has beaten a Full Member in a series, I think. I’m very happy with my team’s performance and my performance. After a very long time I have performed very well. It’s very good for me and also for my team.”
Newly appointed coach Inzamam-ul-Haq’s decision to promote Nabi up the order not only shook the batsman out of his dismal spell of form, it also afforded Afghanistan a stronger team combination. “There was a big change in the batting order. I was at No. 6 and the coach put me in the top order, at No. 3. Credit goes to the coach Inzamam-ul-Haq for supporting me,” Nabi said. “It improved our top-order batting and that was a big change in the series.”
Afghanistan were able to put 245 on the board after being inserted in Bulawayo. They had batted the entire 50 overs and Nabi had been out there for 28 of them to score 53 off 70 balls. Having spent that much time on the pitch, he knew his team had put up a “big target”.
“When we batted first, we decided that if we scored 250 it would be difficult to chase on that pitch. That’s why the boys played very well. The openers and then the middle-order batsmen, they played very well.”
That the target was so ably defended was thanks to Dawlat Zadran‘s spell of 4 for 22 in eight overs, his career best figures in an ODI.
“It was my best performance against a Full Member and hopefully in the upcoming matches I can also continue my good bowling. I’m very excited and happy and satisfied with my performance in the series,” Zadran said. “The coach and captain have given me simple plans to follow. ‘With the new ball, you should just go for the dot and if the batsman makes mistakes you will get wicket. So just get us one or two wickets with the new ball.’ And yes, definitely I have the skills to reverse the old ball, so I bowl better with the old ball than the new ball.”
The team manager, Shir Agha Hamkar, ensured the achievement’s context was not lost. “You cannot imagine the celebrations back home because they are following each and every ball wherever we play. Even club matches and trial matches, they are following their heroes. Cricket has really brought change in Afghanistan. It’s not just a game, it has turned into [a medium that brings] peace and stability to Afghanistan. It brings more people together. It’s very famous and leading sport in Afghanistan. You cannot imagine the welcome they are preparing for this team.
“Looking forward, we are a good team. Just need a couple of more series with Full Members to stay on track because with one or two matches you can never decide who is a good team but a series can give you a clearer idea. We are a good team, and now our goal is to become a Test nation and we are trying all we can.”
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.