Former England Coach and Zimbabwean legend, Andy Flower was all praise for Afghan cricketers whose quality and caliber was on display in their thumping win against South Africa U19 in the opening match of ICC U19 World Cup in Potchefstroom.
In a post-match analysis for the ICC’s Social media, Flower remarked that the Afghan cricket story is always an inspiring one and the Afghan future stars playing currently in the U19 team will have many opportunities abound for them in the coming year. “To see these players come out of those problems that they face in their country and to come through that and play not only with that passion and exuberance, but skill and understanding of the game are really impressive. “ Flower said.
Flower said the Afghans put on a great display in all departments against South Africa and their potent spin attack, in particular, stole the show. “After their tremendous performance against England in the warm-up game, we always knew that the Afghan spin attack is going to be a problem for the opposition teams in this World Cup.” Flower continued.
Afghan spinning duo of Shafiqullah Ghafari and Noor Ahmad took 8 wickets to dismantle the South African batting line-up after an opening burst by left-arm pacer Fazal Haque set the tone for the match. Ghafari in particular, sealed the spotlight with a match-winning performance of 15/6, the seventh-best figures in the tournament’s history, while Noor Ahmad took two crucial wickets.
Flower admired Ghafari’s intelligent mix-up of deliveries that choked the runs and accounted for six South African batsmen. He said “It was a sensational piece of bowling from him (Ghafari). He was very skillful and knowledgeable as well as bowling the right balls at the right time making lots of use of his googly as the South Africans couldn’t pick him. “.
“Noor Ahmad, the left-arm spinner, is going to be a handful. If ever there is a situation when the chase is on and someone goes after him, he will be very difficult to pick as he has a dangerous googly that goes away from the right-handers. “
Flower went on to say that this is not going to be the first time that the Afghan spinners dominate in this World Cup and predicted that they are going to cause lots of problems for other teams.
Even though Afghanistan dominated the game from the start, Flower also pointed out to the fact that the Afghans had a relatively easier transition having been sent to field first and, on the other hand, the South Africans were already under a bit pressure considering that they batted first getting the tournament’s first action in front of their home crowd.
As the Afghan spin attack stole the limelight, their batting also did not disappoint and Andy Flower echoed the fact. “The Afghan batsmen made the chase look easier than it really was. If they had gone about it in a tentative fashion, they could have got themselves in trouble. They were brilliant from the outset. “He continued, “They looked well balanced and their batsmen played in quite a compact and controlled manner.” Said Flower.
“(Ibrahim) Zadran has played Test Cricket, so it was not a surprise to see him bat like that. But, Imran Mir really looked well balanced and in control as well. They looked in real control and were incredibly impressive “remarked Flower.
The former England National Coach also talked about the young British-Afghan off-spinner, Hamidullah Qadiri, who is part of the England U19 squad in the ongoing U19 World Cup. Qadri turned many heads impressing with his performances in the England Lions’ home series recently against Bangladesh and India last summer.
After their comprehensive victory against South Africa, Afghanistan U19 is currently on top of Group-D and is scheduled to face UAE U19 and Canada U19 on 22nd and 24th January respectively.