Afghanistan run a strong National Cricket Academy XI close
On Sunday 21st March, there was a practise match held between an NCA XI and Afghanistan who are at the NCA preparing for the upcoming T20 World Cup.
In total there are scheduled to be 4 practise games, 3 fifty over games and 1 T20 game. The next game will be a T20 fixture on Wednesday (24th March) and the final two 50 over games are scheduled to happen between the 25th and the 27th of March.
The NCA XI were captained by Shoaib Akhtar and included Azhar Ali, Nasir Jamshed, Babar Azam, Adnan Raza, Sami Aslam, Sohail Ahmed, Adnan Akmal, Raza Hasan, Wahab Riaz, Usman Qadir, Zia Ul Haq and Cricistan.com's own Mohammad Irfan.
Afghanistan batted first making 279 all out in the 50th over. They were in a bit of trouble earlier on thanks to some superb bowling by the NCA XI. But a late partnership between their keeper Mohammad Shahzad and lower order batsman Raees Ahmadzai helped bring their total up to just under 280. Raees scored a useful 74 runs off 81 balls but the 19 year old keeper Shahzad really put the NCA attack to the sword bludgeoning 90* off just 63 balls including 2 sixes and 12 fours.
The pick of the NCA bowlers was young left arm spinner Raza Hasan who took four wickets for just 44 runs. Mohammad Irfan took 2/38 but was said to be bowling a bit short whilst Wahab Riaz took 2/46 off his 9 overs. At one point Wahab had only conceded 15 runs off his first 7 overs but keeper Shahzad's late onslaught dented both his and Raza's figures. The NCA captain Akhtar was nursing a calf injury and had to adjust his bandage at least once in each over. Despite bowling in only 2 or 3 over bursts he still looked lacklustre and conceded 57 runs in his 10 overs without taking any wickets.
The NCA XI opened with Azhar Ali (29 off 26 balls) and Nasir Jamshed (9 runs), Azhar was in great form scoring mainly in boundaries but it wasn't his day as he got out after getting a start. Babar Azam came in at number 3 and scored 27 runs off 33 balls. The third Akmal brother (Adnan) scored 27* off 19 balls to help see the NCA through to the win. Sohail Ahmed's (of Lahore Lions fame) 72* off 70 balls with 8 fours was the spine of the NCA reply and he was ably supported by Adnan Raza (57 off 61) and Sami Aslam (35 off 48).
The duo of Adnan Akmal and Sohail Ahmed took the NCA XI home in the 49th over and the NCA finished on 283. Only one bowler from Afghanistan took more than one wicket and that was their left arm spinner (I was told Nasratullah but I cant find his name in the Afganistan squad) who took 2/22 off his 5 overs.
The Afghanistan team impressed against a strong NCA XI team and could end up running them close in the remaining matches too.