A country in constant turmoil. This is the only way the world sees Afghanistan.
But for the last ten days, Afghanistan has been synonymous with cricket and giant-slaying.
First, it turned the tables on England – a country that introduced the game not only to the world but also to Afghanistan in the 1830s.
After England, it was now the turn of neighboring Pakistan to feel the bite of the scorpion. Many of the Afghans discovered their love of the game in Pakistani refugee camps during the decades-long war when the Russians brutally overran the country.
Now little-known Afghanistan has grabbed the India-hosted World Cup by the scruff of its neck and shaken it violently, and two recipients of the Afghan uprising have been England and Pakistan.
Defending champions England are hanging on by a thread after losing to the Afghans and mighty Pakistan, having started with two straight wins, find themselves in the same position as the tournament reaches the halfway point.
The only team to have an unbeaten record of 5-0 at this point is Rohit Sharma’s India after a thrilling win over New Zealand, the only other unbeaten team in the competition at this point.
Before this meeting between the two teams without conceding a goal, India had not been able to defeat the Kiwis since 2005. But this time, a brilliant knock of 95 by Virat Kohli and a five-wicket haul by paceman Mohammed Shami ended the game’s streak.
In a wild weekend, shortly after the Afghans had stunned England, it was South Africa’s turn to destroy England and take a step towards the semi-finals.
The Proteas defeated England by a whopping 229 runs in the heat dome known as Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, where the needle reached 37°C and the humidity was around 46%. But England couldn’t withstand the heat after South Africa scored 399 for seven and were then dismissed for a pitiful 170 in 22 overs.
The champions can still qualify for the semi-finals but will likely need to win all five remaining group games. The chances of something like this happening are as slim as Toronto being spared from snow this winter.
The highlight of the South African innings was Heinrich Klaasen who hit a 61-ball hundred and Marco Jansen 75 from 42 balls. Classes gasped for air and sweat dripped from his cap during his epic century.
England’s batsmen had no chance on the field and had no answer to the Proteas attack, which saw new fast bowler Gerald Coetzee shine with three for 35. England stumbled from 68 for six to 100 for eight and some wild hitting from Mark Wood (43 not out). ) and Gus Atkinson (35), who had nothing to lose, put down the wood.
England’s shaky contest continues against Sri Lanka on Thursday before facing India and Australia.
Meanwhile, South Africa, which boasts the strongest batting line-up in the World Cup, scored 382 for five against Bangladesh on Tuesday, with opener Quinton de Kock scoring a massive 174 complemented by 15 fours and seven sixes. Other big scorers included Klassen with 90 points and Aiden Markham with 60 points.
Bangladesh’s Mohammad Mahmudullah then scored a brilliant 111 in a losing cause when he was out for 233 and fell behind by a massive 149 runs. South Africa has now emerged as a major threat to India.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan beat Pakistan for the first time in an ODI by eight wickets by pulling off their highest successful chase in the thriller in Chennai.
Pakistan posted 282 for seven in what looked like a solid total, but the Afghans hit back with 286 for two with an over to spare. For the Afghans, Ibrahim Zadran scored 87 points, Rahmanullah Gurbaz hit 65 points and Rahmat Shah scored 77 points as Afghanistan moved to sixth place in the standings while England dropped to bottom of the table.
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While Afghanistan boast two of the best spinners in the world, it was teenage wrister Noor Ahmad who starred with three for 49. After these two victories there was joy throughout Afghanistan.
“You know the situation in Afghanistan, it is very depressing,” 25-year-old Abdul Wahab, who runs a medical center in Kabul, told a news agency. “The only excuse to forget everything is cricket.”
Australia may fade into obscurity, but never rule out mounting a late challenge. The Aussies, who have a 2-2 record, plundered Pakistan’s attack with 367 for nine in Bengaluru and then restricted Pakistan to 305 thanks to four for 53 from spinner Adam Zampa.
Australian openers David Warner and Mitchell Marsh came to life with centuries as they put on 259 for the first wicket. Warner made 163 off 124 balls and Marsh hit 121 off 108 balls with Shaheen Afridi being the pick of the Pakistan bowlers with five for 54.
Former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi, who was known as a member of a famous spin quartet, has died at the age of 77, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced.
Bedi, leg-spinner Bhagwat Chandrasekhar and off-spinners Srinivas Venkataraghavan and Erapalli Prasanna were considered the country’s strongest bowling force in the 1960s and 1970s.
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