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T20 World Cup: Afghanistan demolish Uganda | Cricket news

Providence (Guyana): Afghanistan pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi provided a fiery spell following the solid opening partnership of Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran to start their T20 World Cup campaign with a comprehensive 125-run win over debutants Uganda here on Monday.

Gurbaz (76 off 45 balls) and his partner Zadran (70 off 46 balls) hit fluent fifties and registered the second highest opening partnership (154) in the Men’s T20 World Cup as Afghanistan recorded 183/5 after being asked to to hit.

Left-arm pacer Farooqi (5/9) then knocked the wind out of the Ugandan batting line-up with his maiden five-wicket haul as the debutants were bowled out for 58 in 16 overs. “The kind of start we wanted as a team. It doesn’t matter who we play, it’s about the mentality. The hard work we’ve put in over the last few weeks, the way the openers started and the way our bowlers bowled – It was a great team effort,” said captain and country’s biggest cricket icon, Rashid Khan, after the match.

The skipper, who polished the tail himself, expressed his excitement about leading the country in a global event. “Super exciting, proud feeling to lead the team in the World Cup. I’m enjoying it so far and there are some tough games coming up. That’s the great thing about this team. We have so many options and that makes it easy as captain said the world’s best T20 spinner.

Seamer Farooqi was close to claiming a hat-trick twice. He was deadly with the new ball. After being hit for a four on his first delivery, he bowled a brilliant in-swinger that clipped Ronak Patel’s bat before hitting the stumps. He then trapped Roger Mukasa’s leg in front of the wicket with another in swinger from successive balls. “I missed it (getting the hat-trick) a few times (smiles). Something I have no control over and if I get another chance I will try to get that hat-trick,” said Farooqi as he received his award for player of the match.

Farooqi then returned in the 13th over to snare three more wickets to register his career-best figure in T20Is.

He first deceived Riazat Ali Shah with a slower delivery to bowl him out before forcing skipper Brian Masaba to pick the ball as an eager Gurbaz collected it.

He missed another hat-trick but claimed the fifth victim in the last ball of the over. “I kept it simple and wanted to hit the wickets. Playing franchise cricket helps you improve and also helps on the big stage. When you play with so many big players, it helps in handling pressure and bowling at the right areas,” said Farooqi, who played for SRH in previous editions of IPL.

Earlier, with the ball nicely on the bat and a fast outfield, the Afghan openers started strongly. Gurbaz was the first to take on the role of the aggressor as he hit the second balls of the innings for a six.

Zadran quickly followed suit, hitting four consecutive boundaries in the sixth off Dinesh Nakrani.

By the end of the first powerplay, Afghanistan were scoring at an impressive 11 runs per over.

Gurbaz, who had four boundaries and as many sixes, raced to his fifty off just 28 balls in the ninth over. While Zadran, who sent the ball nine times and over the fence once, reached his half-century in the twelfth over.

Uganda’s poor fieldwork only compounded the problems. Gurabaz was dismissed with a no ball in the 14, giving 25 runs as the Afghanistan raced to 150.

It looked like the duo would bat for the full 20 overs, but the Ugandan bowlers fought back and kept the total below 200. Afghanistan’s next challenge will be infinitely tougher against a formidable New Zealand side. “A big game for us. It’s about keeping things simple,” said Rashid.

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