A strong Asian XI led by Shoaib Malik was too good for a relatively unknown African XI in the only Twenty20 game of the Afro-Asia Cup. The Asian team packed with competent batsmen right till no.9 won by a comfortable margin of six wickets with as many as 25 balls to spare. The Asians had to chase 110 from 120 balls which is quite a moderate target in a Twenty20 affair.
Having restricted the Africans for 109 for 8, the Asians stuttered losing three early wickets to be at 34 for 3 in 5.4 overs. Sri Lankan middle order batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan took the game away from the Africans with a smart unbeaten knock of 47 from 36 balls with 6 fours and a six. He put on an undefeated partnership of 49 with Skipper Shoaib Malik (14 not out) to seal the game. Earlier it was Bangladeshi young opener Tamim Iqbal leading the way in the chase with an entertaining 30 from 22 balls with three fours and a six. Imran Nazir, Kamran Akmal and Bangladesh’s new captain – Mohammad Ashraful missed out getting just single scores. South Africa’s new fast bowler Morne Morkel was the only bowler who could keep the Asians under a check with figures of 1 for 16 in his allotted 4 overs.
The pitch at the Chinnaswamy Stadium had nice life for the pace bowlers. A good grass covering enabled good pace and bounce off the track which was exploited well by the Asian new ball bowler Mashrafe Mortaza. Shoaib Malik had made the right decision in putting his opposition to take first strike. The Tanmay Mishra led African side were in tatters as they kept on losing wickets. South African Loots Bosman rescued them with a neat 52 from 55 to get them to a respectable total. Bosman struck three fours and three sixes. One of his sixes was a magical pick up shot off Sreesanth who had the last laugh as he induced an inside edge off an attempted pull that was taken behind. To add some spice to the contest, Sreesanth gave a long hard glare and mouthed a few words at Bosman after dismissing him.
Sreesanth was wayward to begin with but finished with a decent 2 for 26 in 4 overs while his partner Mortaza was excellent with 2 for 17 in his 4. Both these bowlers managed to bowl a maiden each which is an incredible thing in this version of the game. Bangladeshi left arm spinner Abdur Razaak yielded only 12 runs in his quota of 4 overs besides taking a wicket. His flat and quick deliveries were too difficult to put away. For most part of their innings, even the ones and twos were hard to get for the inexperienced Africans. Just 8 fours and 3 sixes were struck in their innings. Interestingly the second highest scorer after Bosman was opener Gulam Bodi with 12.
Asian women beat African women
The Twenty20 game between the Asia Women and Africa Women was the curtain raiser of the Afro-Asia Cup. The Asia women bundled out the hapless Africans for a paltry 45 as they successfully defended their moderate total of 105. What was interesting to watch in this game was the way the bowlers on both sides got the ball to move around. The Indian medium pace pair of Jhulan Goswami and Rumeli Dhar took seven wickets among themselves giving away just 16 runs in 7 overs! It took 15 overs to bowl out the Africans.
The toss for this match was won by Crizelda Brits, the African Captain who had put the Asians to bat first. The much fancied Asian women were in a hole at 4 for 3. Skipper Mithali Raj was among the early casualties, playing right across a delivery to be lbw. Wicket Keeper and Opener Sulakshana Naik rescued the side with a polished 31 from 34 with five fours. Pakistan’s Skipper Urooz Mumtaz coming at no.9 came up with a sensible 18 to take her side to 105 for 9. Sri Lankan Chamari Polgampola came up with the finishing act with 22 from 16. The women’s match did not contain a single six but there was enough fun and noise in the middle with all the wickets falling down.