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Nabi leads Afghanistan to silver

Former MCC Young Cricketer Mohammad Nabi led Afghanistan to a silver medal at the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China - just three weeks after being appointed as captain.

Nabi, a MCC Young Cricketer based at Lord's in 2007, replaced Nowroz Mangal earlier this month in time for the Asian Games quarter-finals.

The new captain made a telling contribution with the ball in successive matches to steer the Afghans to the Asian Games Final.

Played in the Twenty20 format, Afghanistan faced Hong Kong in the quarter-finals. Nabi made a bad start, losing his first toss as skipper but quickly set about putting that right.

The right-arm off-spinner took two wickets at the cost of just eight runs, including the final wicket as Hong Kong were all out for just 63.

Afghanistan chased that total down comfortably to set-up a semi-final against the strongly fancied Pakistan.

Though it was a young Pakistan side (with most of their players in Abu Dhabi for the Test series against South Africa) they were captained by One Day International capped Khalid Latif and featured Raza Hasan - who was called up to the Pakistan Test squad during last season.

Semi-final shock

Nabi lost the toss again and, after being inserted by Latif could contribute only seven runs as his side scored 125-8 from their 20 overs.

On the tricky pitches in China that seemed a defendable total but Pakistan's opening batsmen looked set to chase down the target with ease, scoring 30 runs from the first three overs.

Then Nabi brought himself on to bowl and sparked a match-winning collapse. He trapped his opposite number Latif LBW and from 60-1 Pakistan tumbled to 77-6.

Hamid Hasan, another former MCC Young Cricketer kept the pressure on. Taking 2-16 from his four overs and the entire Afghan attack bowled well restricting the usually flowing attacking strokes of the Pakistan players.

They never recovered, scoring just 103-7 from their 20 overs sending the Afghan players into raptures.

"It's a big win for Afghanistan." Nabi told ESPNCricInfo (opens in a new window).

"Every person there is watching the match and everybody is happy about this win. I'm very satisfied because we have fantastic fitness levels and the boys have worked very hard in every position, whether it's fielding, bowling or batting."

Vice-captain, Karim Sadeq, said the whole the country was behind the team: "On TV in Afghanistan, they told people to pray that we would win. They will be celebrating all over the country. It's a dream for us."

The dream was ended one match too soon as Bangladesh won a thrillingly close final - the winning runs coming with just three balls remaining.

The Bangladesh side was dotted with Test players and Afghanistan may look to the victors as an example of what can be achieved.

Having played their first ODI just over 18 months ago, Afghanistan's ambition for full Test status has moved a step closer.

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