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#SLvAFG | Afghanistan do themselves proud by setting a target of 154 for Sri Lanka

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:58 IST

It was Afghanistan's first ever match in the Super 10's stage of the ICC World T20 against the defending champions, and one didn't quite know what to expect. Yes, they had been dominant in the qualifiers but Sri Lanka was in a different league.

Just over an hour and a half later after Afghanistan won the toss and elected to bat first, they had proven that not only do they belong to the big stage, they can give the very best a run for their money.

Afghanistan posted a total of 153 for Sri Lanka to chase down in the second innings, but more importantly, their batsmen exhibited a trait that is commonly found in champion teams - calmness and quality in abundance.

For when their star batsman Mohammad Shahzad was dismissed for only eight runs, the rest of the Afghanistan batsmen did not lose their calm or confidence. It would have been very easy for them to panic in the knowledge that they were suddenly without their best batsman while playing against the defending champions, but in stepped Noor Ali Zadran to ease the situation.

He made 20 off 23 balls before being bowled by Rangana Herath, but that was probably a blessing in disguise as in walked captain Asghar Stanikzai.

Stanikzai played arguably the innings of the tournament so far as he made 62 off 47 balls. After starting with studied composure, he let loose towards the end of the innings, dispatching the ball over the boundary on almost every ball.

Shamiullah Shenwari's 31 off 14 balls was crucial too, and he described the total that Afghanistan posted as a 'fighting' score. Asked by Pommie Mbangwa if they could win the match, the reply was simple - 'Inshallah'.

The world shall now see in the second innings, if Afghanistan can truly announce themselves on the world stage.

First published: 17 March 2016, 9:24 IST