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So on to Sunday, when both teams face a jump up in class as India take on South Africa while Pakistan entertained the unseeded (who makes this stuff up?) Australia. Wallop. Two seriously tasty matches. That's your lot from me, 6000 words of endless rambling about cricket and occasional other stuff. See you on the other side tomorrow.
PAKISTAN (172-3, 20 OVS) BEAT BANGLADESH (151-7, 20 OVS) BY 21 RUNS 20 overs - Bangladesh 151-7
Nothing to see here as Saeed Ajmal conedes just two runs from his final over. Decent game that, excellent persistence from the Bangladeshis. The off-spinner has Mortaza in a tizz with a beautifully flighted delivery from around the wicket, giving Kamran Akmal a simple stumping as Mortaza completely misses the ball sauntering down the track. New man Suhrawadi Shuvo couldn't even get near two deliveries before finally tonking a single from the final delivery of the match. So there we go - defending champions Pakistan open up with a 21-run win.
19.3 overs - Bangladesh 150-7 Mortaza stumped Akmal b Ajmal 1 19 overs - Bangladesh 145-6 From Paul in Lancs, TMS inbox:
A despairing dive saves a certain boundary as Mohammad Sami steams in for his final over. Meanwhile, Mushfiqur Rahim orders a change of bat, only to sky the very next ball high into the air for Saeed Ajmal to pouch coming in from square leg. Obviously the wrong choice. In comes the square-shouldered Mushrafe Mortaza, who can give it some tap, only to squirt a Sami yorker for a solitary single. Good over from the resurgent paceman. Bangladesh need 25 from six deliveries. I for one would love to see Paul in his chequered lunghi. I would also be intrigued to see whether he goes for the east or west coast knot.
"If Bangladesh nick this I'll wear my chequered lunghi to work tomorrow in celebration."
18 overs - Bangladesh 141-5 Wicket Ashraful ct Kamran Akmal b Mohammad Aamer 65
Top batting from Naeem, who takes a few strides to the leg side and swats Mohammad Aamer over point for four. But the bowler has his revenge a few deliveries later as Ashraful attempts to play the dink-over-the-shoulder, a stroke he invented, but gets a fine nick into the gloves of Kamran Akmal. Game over - or so you would think. Awesome innings from the diminutive talent though, kept me entertained.
17 overs - Bangladesh 134-4
Where there's an Ashraful, there's a way as the compact right-hander tonks his third maximum with a lusty blow straight back over Afridi's head. Beautiful strike. He goes aerial again over extra cover for two but he loses the strike for the start of the 18th over as new batsman Naeem Islam nicks the strike.
16 overs - Bangladesh 123-4 Wicket Shakib Al Hasan ct U Akmal b Sami, Mahmudullah ct Aamer b Sami 0
Just when he looked set for a half century, Shakib holes a simple catch to deep long-off, where Umar Akmal takes a simple catch, ending his excellent innings of 47 from just 31 deliveries. New man Mahmudullah is fortunate to still keep his wicket in tact as a thick inside edge just falls short of wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal. However, he's back in the dug-out two balls later as he scoops a simple catch to Mohammad Aamer at point.
15 overs - Bangladesh 120-2
Skipper Afridi tightens things up and bowls a dreamy final delivery, which confounds Ashraful, who cannot get his bat anywhere near the ball. So it's 53 from 30 deliveries. it's do-able, although Shakib looks as though he is struggling with cramp or something similar as he is grimacing as if he has just stood on a three-pin plug.
14 overs - Bangladesh 114-2
Ashraful brings up his half century from only 38 deliveries with another punchy aerial straight drive, this time for a couple. Impressive innings, made the more puzzling considering he was dropped against England in the recent one-day series. Shakib gives it some long handle as he wellies Hafeez over long-on for six, following that up with a similar maximum in the same area. Hello - do we have a contest here? Seventeen runs from that over, taking the partnership to 84 from just 54 deliveries.
13 overs - Bangladesh 97-2
Stand. And. Deliver. Ashraful times the most blissful six over long-off with such grace and beauty. You could hang that in the Tate Britain. And he does exactly the same again - this time with a one-bounce four - to give Afridi a nasty little headache.
12 overs - Bangladesh 84-2
Shakib keeps the momentum going, this time with an ugly front-foot slap straight back over off-spinner Saeed Ajmal's head, you wouldn't want that in your scrapbook. Left-hander Shakib collects a couple more with a sweep down to deep square.
11 overs - Bangladesh 74-2
Sweet timing from Ashraful, who greets Shahid Afridi's arrival with a disdainful boundary over mid-off for four - a stroke which reeks of class and sheer arrogance. He misses out on the last delivery of the over as he opts for a reverse sweep straight to short third man when a conventional stroke would have been more productive.
10 overs - Bangladesh 68-2
Hafeez drops short and wide outside leg stump, allowing Shakib to tuck in for his second boundary. Still another 105 runs to go from only 60 deliveries. Methinks not.
9 overs - Bangladesh 63-2
That's more like it - Ashraful picks up one of the most effortless sixes you will ever see, launching a length ball high over midwicket for six with the minimum of effort. He takes a couple of steps down the track and thumps Abdul Razzaq over mid-off for a couple more. Shakib has more success with the lofted straight drive, launching a length ball over mid-on for a one-bounce four. Good over for the Tigers.
8 overs - Bangladesh 47-2
Ashraful attempts the reverse sweep to Hafeez and just slices a thick outside edge over point's head. The innings is stalling - and fast.
7 overs - Bangladesh 43-2
All-rounder Abdul Razzaq joins the party, only to see Mohammad Ashraful open the face and just guide the ball past the outstretched right glove of Kamran Akmal for four. Streaky, but the Tigers need a hatful of those to get within sniffing distance of their target.
6 overs - Bangladesh 36-2 Wicket Tamim ct and bowled Mohammad Hafeez 18
Tamim's innings ends when he returns a miss-hit front-foot drive right back at off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez for a simple catch. With the dismissal go Bangladesh's hopes of chasing down the highest ever international Twenty20 winning target.
From Haroon, London, TMS inbox:
"Wonder what the odds are gonna be like for Pakistan to lift the cup again if they win this match..."
5 overs - Bangladesh 29-1
For those of you struggling with the scorecard on the right, just refresh your web browser
and you should pick up the current match. Mohammad Aamer aims for another toe-crunching yorker, but lands the ball six inches too short as Tamim tucks away the resulting half volley beyond mid-on for four. Bangladesh's run-rate is close to the 10-runs-an-over mark already.
4 overs - Bangladesh 22-1
Free runs from Mohammad Sami, who serves up a buffet ball outside off stump for Mohammad Ashraful to smear behind square for four. Bit of a contest between these two as Ashraful moves around his crease, attempting to put Sami off his line. It half works, earning a wide but the bowler outsmarts him with a full delivery outside off stump as Ashraful counters outside leg. Tamim is fortunate to evade a fielder as a top-edged paddle lands in space behind the keeper.
3 overs - Bangladesh 13-1
Mohammad Aamer almost takes off Tamim's toenail with the most vicious yorker you will see in these two weeks in the Caribbean. Tamim just about gets his bat down in front of his feet, but he loses his balance as he does so, just like Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram used to do to batsmen in their prime. Excellent over from the teenager.
2 overs - Bangladesh 11-1
If you caught any of England's tour of Bangladesh, then you know just how dangerous Tamim Iqbal is. The left-hander absolutely wellies a full delivery on off stump through mid-off for four off the returning Mohammad Sami before paddling a superbly timed paddle-pull past deep square leg for four.
1 over - Bangladesh 1-1 Imrul Kayes ct Misbah-ul-Haq b Mohammad Aamer 0
Out come the Bangladesh openers Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes, with Mohammad Aamer - whose face is slathered in sun block - taking the new ball. He looks a bit like Cesar Romero in the original Batman series, only without the hysteric and manic laugh. And he strikes with his final ball of the over as Imrul Kayes attempts a ill-judged pull, top-edging high to short third man, where Misbah takes a comfortable catch.
Alison Mitchell on Twitter:
"Should have mentioned, cricket is competing for attention with the St Lucia Jazz Festival, which started today. "
PAKISTAN 172-3 (20 OVS) BANGLADESH NEED 173 TO WIN 20 overs - Pakistan 172-3
Razzak manages not to concede any boundaries from his final over as new bat and namealike Abdul Razzaq fails to add a flourish to Pakistan's innings. But still, a very, very difficult target to chase, especially with Pakistan's myriad of tweakers to come.
19 overs - Pakistan 164-3 Wicket Salman Butt bowled Shafiul Islam 73
Butt gives his wicket away attempting to play a reverse Dilscoop - you can't make this stuff up - as Shafiul clatters a full delivery into middle stump. Oh look, here comes Misbah-ul-Haq. He shuffles outside of off stump and plays a deft leg glance for two to fine leg before picking up two more with a slap down the track. Not quite the double ton predicted by Javed, but a pretty decent total to post.
18 overs - Pakistan 156-2 wicket Afridi ct Mahmudullah b Shakib 9
Great bells - Shahid Afridi is wielding what can only be described as a 10-ton teak log in his hands. The edge of the bat is thicker than the walls of Fort Knox. And the huge edge is responsible for his downfall as he miss-hits a smear to Mahmudullah standing at short third man.
17 overs - Pakistan 149-1
Afridi is fortunate not to lose his wicket as Shafiul Islam goes around the wicket. He skews two smears just short of fielders, picking up a couple along the way but is furiously shaking his head. Probably because the ball is still in the same postcode.
16 overs - Pakistan 143-1 Wicket Kamran ct Razzak b Shakib 73
Shakib returns, and finally we have a wicket. Kamran attempts to go aerial over the off side, but doesn't get enough on the ball to clear the fielder as Abdur Razzak takes the catch running back from point. Top innings from the wicketkeeper. And just when you think things are improving - in comes Shahid Afridi to lump the ball to Barbados.
15 overs - Pakistan 138-0
Exquisite stroke, quite, quite brilliant from Kamran, who marmalises Mortaza over extra cover for a brutal six. This is about consolidation for Bangladesh now, just a matter of keeping the total on the right side of 200. Awesome improvisation from Butt, who walks across his stumps and flicks Mortaza off middle stump past fine leg, inside the circle, for four. The man who wrote the MCC coaching manual would have a heart-attack if he was watching this.
From Anon, text 81111:
"They are playing well now. However Pakistan seem to slip up always. Hope not as I've got a donner kebab on this!!"
14 overs - Pakistan 124-0
Awesome strokeplay from Butt, who makes room to the leg side before lofting an imperious off drive into the huge gap between deep midwicket and long-off as Abdur Razzak comes in for more tap. That is just awful - a long-hop on leg stump is absolutely hammered past fine leg four Akmal's eighth boundary. Tuck in lads, the buffet is open.
13 overs - Pakistan 112-0
With his bowling options rapidly diminishing, skipper Shakib turns to Mohammad Ashraful to stem the run flow. But guess what? He gets absolutely carted about all over the ground, including a brutal drive over cover for a one-bounce four off Akmal.
12 overs - Pakistan 104-0
Yet more left-arm tweakage, this time from Suhrawadi Shuvo, who is treated with utter disdain by Salman Butt, who moves to one run of his half century as he absolutely plays into a rank long-hop over long-on for the 26th maximum of the tournament. He reaches his 50 with a simple single as Kamran brings up his half ton with a fierce straight drive hit right back at the bowler's head. He decides to take evasive action, which was probably the right decision, as the ball rolls away for Akmal's sixth boundary.
From Alec, TMS inbox:
"The pitch is too slow for more than 200 - even if your name is Pietersen."
11 overs - Pakistan 92-0
Wallop! Salman Butt absolutely laces a slog-sweep over the ropes for a flat six off the returning Abdur Razzak. There probably won't be any leather left on that ball. he attempts the same again but doesn't get as much bat on that shot as the ball fortunately drops just in front of the fielder.
10 overs - Pakistan 80-0
Salman Butt drops to one knee and smears a muscular sweep over midwicket for four off Shakib. It's all a bit too easy right now.
9 overs - Pakistan 71-0
Awesome strokeplay from Kamran, who scythes a drive through cover for four before hopping down the crease with a cross-batted flick for a couple off Naeem. He's in the mood for carnage.
8 overs - Pakistan 61-0
If you want a job done properly... On comes captain Shakib Al Hasan and his wily brand of left-arm darts. Immediately he stems the run haemorrhaging with a tidy first five deliveries, only for Salman Butt to wang a brutal one-kneed hack back over the bowler's head for four from the final delivery.
7 overs - Pakistan 54-0
Off-spinner Naeem Islam makes his bow - only to see a rank wide ball from around the wicket swept past fine leg for four by Salman Butt. It's raining runs at the Beausejour Stadium, all to easy for the Pakistani openers.
6 overs - Pakistan 47-0
Interesting prediction from Javed although Shafiul contains Kamran with four dot balls before he presents the inevitable four ball - a full toss on leg stump - which Kamran smartly dispatches through extra cover. A big lbw shout to end the over as Kamran is struck on the front pad attempting to sweep, but Australian umpire Rod Tucker returns a disdainful stare. So not out then.
From Javed, Reading, text 81111:
"Pakistan set to become first team to break 200 in this competition methinks."
5 overs - Pakistan 42-0
Butt nearly drags a well-disguised Mortaza slower ball on to his stumps, but he deals with the next delivery with more authority, smiting the ball over mid-off with two skips of the feet for his third boundary.
4 overs - Pakistan 35-0
Shakib shelves the spin option in favour of Shafiul Islam, playing only his second Twenty20 international. However, the pace bowler drops short and the pitch is slow enough to allow Kamran to swivel on to his back foot and paddle an effortless pull shot behind square for four. Bangladesh are wobbling like Mr Creosote's belly here.
3 overs - Pakistan 28-0
Shocker from Mohammad Ashraful, who fails to get under a skier from Kamran Akmal off Mortaza. Kamran smears a couple down to deep point before Butt opens up and caresses a square cut through the same area for another boundary. Impressive start by the men in the darker shade of green. What's that about? Two teams in virtually the same colour? Don't we have away strips in international cricket?
2 overs - Pakistan 19-0
Pakistan skipper Shakib Al Hasan opts for spin alongside Mortaza with Abdur Razzak, only for the left-arm spinner to be creamed for two successive leg-side fours. Buffet bowling, although Akmal is fortunate not to be walking back to the dug-out when Mahmudullah's throw just evades the stumps with the stumper out of his ground. Oh yes, would you mind refreshing your page to pick up the latest scorecard? Thankyoukindly.
1 over - Pakistan 10-0
Mashrafe Mortaza opens up and sees his third delivery spanked high over his head by left-hander Salman Butt for four, cracking aerial straight drive. Opening partner Kamran Akmal adds a couple to his tally and it's all good for Pakistan.
The teams: Pakistan
- Salman Butt, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Hafeez, Shahid Afridi*, Umar Akmal, Fawad Alam, Misbah-ul-Haq, Abdul Razzaq, Mohammad Aamer, Mohammad Sami, Saeed AjmalBangladesh:
Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Mohammad Ashraful, Shakib Al Hasan*, Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim, Naeem Islam, Suhrawadi Shuvo, Shafiul Islam, Mashrafe Mortaza, Abdur Razzak
The Tigers welcome back big-hitting all-rounder Mashrafe Mortaza, boosting their seam-bowling ranks by a good few notches. Where to start with Pakistan? Their two most experienced batsmen suspended indefinitely, no Shoaib Malik or Rana Naved because of their subversive influence during the disastrous tour to Australia earlier in the year. So who do they give the captaincy to? Only the
ball-biting, big-hitting, beard-wearing and quite, quite brilliant Shahid Afridi.
And we haven't even got on to Mohammad Asif yet.
No Mohammad Asif for Pakistan, who include Mohammad Sami in their starting XI. Not great for Bangladesh - they have lost their last 10 short-form internationals and have not won since September 2007.
Toss time - world champions Pakistan win the toss and elect to bat first.
OK, so that, on paper, looked regulation for India. But scratch beneath the surface and Afghanistan have potential coursing throughout their team. Opener Noor Ali looks classy, Asghar Stanikzai can hit a long ball while Shapoor Zadran is a handful and leg-spinner Samiullah Shenwari has enough variations to confound some decent batsmen. And their fielding is not village either. Meanwhile, headlines for India will revolve around Murali Vijay, the man charged with replacing the injured Virender Sehwag at the top of the order. Want more? We've got the defending champions Pakistan coming up against Bangladesh at 1830BST, so stick the John Kettley on, grab a handful of those luxuriant chocolate chip biscuits and check your Facebook page for the 658th time before settling down for another go.
INDIA 116-3 (14.5 OVS) BEAT AFGHANISTAN 115-8 BY SEVEN WICKETS 15.5 overs: India 116-3
Smash! Dhoni greets opposite number Norwoz Mangal with a massive 84m-long straight six. Wallop! The next ball goes even further in the same direction, cue a blast of reggateon. MS wraps up the seven-wicket win as he opens up the blade and picks up a couple through point with 31 balls to spare.
14 overs: India 102-3 Wicket Murali Vijay ct Zadran b Hassan 48
Oh dear. Mockers from Ankur. Murali Vijay swats a Hamid Hassan full-toss to long-on, where Shapoor Zadran takes a smart low catch. Shame as the Chennai opener deserved a 50. In comes MS. No, not Afghan wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad. The other one. Another good over from Hassan, just a single - and a wicket - from it.
From Ankur Shah, text 81111:
"I see India as comfortable winners but not a bad show from Afghan fielders. Come on India!"
13 overs: India 101-2
Tweaker Mohammad Nabi returns - and sees his first delivery dispatched high over his head by Murali Vijay for six. The next ball goes exactly the same way as Vijay brings up the hundred with the sweetest straight drive you are ever likely to see. Effortless.
12 overs: India 88-2
Yuvraj effortlessly strokes a cover drive for two off Hassan, who catches the left-hander unawares with a spritely short ball. The Indians are in full control here.
11 overs: India 83-2
Sadiq oversteps and Yuvraj goes aerial with the free hit, launching the ball high over deep midwicket for six. Oh dear - he's bowled another front-foot no-ball off the free hit. The next delivery is a horrific wide while the next free hit is adroitly punched over mid-off for two by Yuvraj. Murali Vijay attempts the Larry Dooley down the ground, but gets too much bottom bat on the stroke as the ball sails high into the air. However, the headbanded Hamid Hassan drops the catch on the run, tough chance. You can sense Afghan heads are dropping.
10 overs: India 67-2
This is priceless - Hamid Hassan is bowling with a red headband
, making him look like one of Daniel san's opponents during his unbelievable - and some would say unheralded - tournament victory in the Karate Kid. Top over though, just three runs conceded.
9 overs: India 64-2
More tweak, this time through off-spinner Karim Sadiq, who sees Vijay shuffle down the track and chip a simple two in the deep. No pyrotechnics from Yuvraj as yet, opting for circumspect rather than the huge mooey. So 52 to win from 66 deliveries. You'd expect this should be in the bag. You would think...
8 overs: India 58-2
The Pakistani players, resplendent in their green uniforms, are lined up and by the looks of their faces, utterly intrigued by the antics of their two neighbours. They will have no doubt noted that Shenwari is not an easy bowler to dispatch, with the third-wicket Indian pair picking up no more than singles.
7 overs: India 53-2
Nabi goes around the wicket to Yuvraj, tossing it up like a ripe fuji apple. Yuvraj once again picks up bonus runs following a misfield, this time with a paddle sweep which Zadran fails to stop at short fine leg for three.
6 overs: India 47-2 Wicket Suresh Raina lbw Samiullah Shenwari 18
On comes leg-spinner Samiullah Shenwari, whose arrival is greeted with a deft cut behind point for four by Murali Vijay. But the leggie has Suresh Raina trapped in front as the left-hander plays across the line. No doubt about that decision, off you go sunny. In comes the familiar swagger of Yuvraj Singh, who capitalises on a misfield to collect his first run of the day. Top start from Shenwari.
5 overs: India 41-1
On comes off-spinner Mohammad Nabi for his first joust - and a tidy start too. However, he errs with his third delivery as he oversteps - criminal for a spinner - and to make matters worse, Raina sweeps the ball for a boundary. Raina attempts the same with the free hit, but misses the ball although he makes contact with the next delivery, hoisting it just - and I really do mean just - over deep midwicket's head for six.
From Andrew McGavin, TMS inbox:
"Great commentary. Just to mention that people from Afghanistan are called Afghans. Afghani is the currency."
4 overs: India 27-1
Oooof! Risky business from Murali Vijay, who takes a swift single but probably gets a little too much willow at contact. But fortunately for the opener, the on-rushing fielder Karim Sadiq failed to pick up the ball cleanly to throw at the non-striker's end. Good bowling from Zadran, who sees Raina play and miss outside his off stump. Tight over, just three from it.
3 overs: India 24-1 Wicket Gambhir ct Mohammad Nabi b Dawlat Ahmadzai 4
Gambhir skips down the track and attempts to smear Ahmadzai over cover, but doesn't make sufficient contact as Mohammad Nabi takes a sharp catch at cover. The Afghanis go ballistic - and why wouldn't they? So that's the sixth-best one-day batsman out of the way - only Raina, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Pathan and a few others to contend with. New-man Raina plays a sumptuous drive through cover for three, but these Afghanis aren't half spritely in the field. They've cut at least three runs with determined fielding on the ropes.
2 overs: India 19-0
On comes Shapoor Zadran, a left-arm seamer with plenty of height and enough zip to cause top-order problems. Think a mirror image Mohammad Asif. Gautam Gambhir just about makes his ground with a quick single but an impressive start from the 25-year-old from Logar province.
1 over: India 16-0
And we're off - and dear me Dawlat Ahmadzai's first ball is a front-foot no-ball. Gautam Gambhir takes an easy single and hands Murali Vijay the free-hit - and the Chennai Super Kings opener slaps the bowler straight back down the ground for four, his first runs in international Twenty20 cricket. Vijay then rocks back and plays the most audacious pull with the most minimal of effort for six. Just an awesome, awesome pick-up. He attempts the same with the next delivery, but gets nowhere enough willow as the ball just evades mid-on. Resounding start by the sub-continental powerhouse.
So, what to make of that? Personally, I'm impressed. Noor Ali looks like a man so at home with international cricket he's already got his feet up reading the papers while watching T4 on Sunday. Don't think the Indians will be too pleased with that performance, although with the batting line-up they boast, this game could be over before very long. Looking forward to seeing what the Afghanis have to offer with the ball.
AFGHANISTAN 115-8 (20 OVS) - INDIA NEED 116 TO WIN 20 overs - Afghanistan 114-8 Wicket Hamid Hassan ct Nehra b Zaheer 6
Zaheer Khan charges in and slings down a decent yorker. But a short ball is top-edged high over Dhoni's head by Hamid Hassan for four. Zaheer has his revenge the next ball as Hassan chips a simple catch to Nehra at mid-off and Afghanistan end up with a not-too-shabby 115-8.
19 overs - Afghanistan 108-7 Wicket Samiullah Shenwari run out 7
Ashish Nehra is creamed through mid-off for four by Shenwari, but a right royal running mix-up sees the batsman back in the dug-out as both he and partner Raees Ahmadzai end up at the non-striker's end, giving Dhoni the easiest run-out of his professional career. That's four wickets in 14 balls. Implosion of the highest order.
18 overs - Afghanistan 100-6
Stanikzai perishes as he attempts to add maximum number four off Praveen Kumar, but top-edges a skier into the hands of Zaheer at midwicket. Mohammad Nabi follows the very next ball with an agricultural swipe, but once again top-edges, this time into the safe hands of Dhoni, who collects his fourth catch of the innings. New man Samiullah Shenwari fends off the hat-trick ball before bringing up the three figures off the final ball of the over.
17.2 overs - Afghanistan 97-6 Wicket Mohammad Nabi ct Dhoni b Praveen Kumar 0
17.1 overs - Afghanistan 97-5 Wicket Asghar Stanikzai ct Zaheer Khan b Praveen Kumar 30
17 overs - Afghanistan 97-4 Wicket Noor Ali ct Dhoni b Nehra 50
Take a bow Noor Ali, who brings up a thoroughly deserved half century from 47 deliveries with a cute leg glance. But his next delivery back on strike takes a hefty edge off the outside of his bat attempting to swipe a shortish Ashish Nehra delivery for Dhoni's third catch of the afternoon. Well played that man. In comes the big-hitting Mohammad Nabi, who fends like Geoff Boycott.
16 overs - Afghanistan 95-3
Sound the alarm - Asghar Stanikzai goes aerial for the third time, this time dispatching Harbhajan Singh over the deep midwicket boundary and into the stands for six. Beautifully struck sweep shot worthy of the world's best. Top over for the pluc...errr bra... err enterprising Afghanistanis, picking up a further eight runs. The reggaeton is properly blaring right now.
15 overs - Afghanistan 81-3
Fifty partnership up between this fourth-wicket pair, although after playing so intelligently these past 14 overs, Noor Ali decides to unleash the reverse sweep - but both times finds the fielder when a conventional stroke would probably have earned more runs. Good over from Ravindra Jadeja, who concedes just two runs from the over to finish with figures of 1-15 from four overs.
14 overs - Afghanistan 79-3
Noor Ali goes on the attack once again, shifting to the leg side and swiping the returning Zaheer Khan over mid-off for four. This boy looks at home - booked in for bed and breakfast? He has six more overs to carry his bat. Impressive running between the wickets too picking up the singles and doubles.
13 overs - Afghanistan 69-3
On comes off-spinner Yusuf Pathan, who sees Ashgar Stanikzai (whoops! Wrong batsman earlier, sorry about that) drop to one knee and larrup the ball over midwicket for a beautifully struck six. Good over for the minn...errr team in sky blue.
12 overs - Afghanistan 57-3
More delicate angles from Noor Ali, opening the face of his blade and guiding Harbhajan Singh down to third man for a couple before the Afghani pair collect three more singles. But Harbhajan once again confounds with his myriad of variations. No buffet balls on offer.
11 overs - Afghanistan 52-3
After being kept in check by Harbhajan Singh in the previous over, Shenwari skips down the track and hoists Jadeja high over deep midwicket for six - the first maximum of the day. That shot was all about swift footwork. Still need to crank up the run-rate because the Indian openers could have a sub-100 total wrapped up in no time.
10 overs - Afghanistan 43-3
Beautiful over from Harbhajan, plenty of loop, air and fizz, too good for Shenwari, who opts for a straight bat and a text-book forward defence.
9 overs - Afghanistan 40-3
Ali creates room for himself down the leg side and slaps Jadeja over extra cover for an industrious boundary, quality shot. Looks like the opener will have to stay the whole duration if his team have any aspirations of victory.
8 overs - Afghanistan 35-3
Dhoni mixes up his bowlers like a sous chef with Harbhajan Singh and his brand of wily off-breaks. The Mumbai Indian keeps things tight yet again, leaking just four runs, although yet more attractive strokeplay from Ali, this time with an elegant cut to deep point.
7 overs - Afghanistan 33-3
Double left-arm spin attack as Yuvraj Singh comes on for his first over. A very tidy six deliveries later and Noor Ali adds a couple to the total. The opener is batting alongside Samiullah Shenwari.
6 overs - Afghanistan 29-3 Wicket Mangal ct Gambhir b Jadeja 5
TfT - time for tweak - as Ravindra Jadeja and his left-arm twirlers are introduced for the first time. Mangal sniffs the first two before attempting to go aerial with the third, bue he doesn't get enough bat on the drive as he loops a simple catch to Gautam Gambhir at mid-off. Ominous.
5 overs - Afghanistan 29-2
Wallop! Eat my willow! New batsman and Afghani captain Norwoz Mangal goes agricultural and smears Zaheer Khan for four past mid-on, where Harbhajan Singh makes a right horlicks of attempting to stop the ball. Think a Cristiano Ronaldo dive meets a toddler falling over in comedy style and you're halfway there.
From Killingholme Clay, TMS inbox:
"Re 1431 - you forgot 'plucky' you naughty boy! Love and kisses."
4 overs - Afghanistan 22-2 Wicket Shahzad ct Dhoni b Nehra 6
Fresh from an arrogant leg-side swipe for a boundary off Ashish Nehra, Shahzad perishes in a similar fashion to Sadiq as he gloves a catch off a short leg-side delivery to Dhoni. However, replays suggest South African umpire Marais Erasmus made the wrong decision as the ball cannons off the helmet with little sign of glove contact before thudding into Dhoni's gloves. Ho-hum.
Anon on text 81111:
"Bangladesh and Afghanistan - hopefully as a Bangladesh fan we can both produce a brilliant performance! Tigers 4 lyf!"
3 overs - Afghanistan 18-1
First international boundary for Afghanistan as the compact Noor Ali turns a Praveen Kumar delivery off his hips down past fine leg before a tasty drive through the covers for his second four. Afghanistan has got talent.
2 overs - Afghanistan 8-1 Sadiq ct Dhoni b Nehra 0
Nice shot from Noor Ali, guiding a cut down to deep square off Ashish Nehra, but Sadiq is back in the hutch the next ball as he follows a short ball down the leg side but instead gloves a simple catch for wicketkeeper Dhoni. New man Mohammad Shahzad chips his first ball through midwicket for a couple.
1 over - Afghanistan 3-0
Good early wobble for Praveen Kumar, who shapes two away from the bat before bringing the next two back into Noor Ali's pads. The opener gets the first runs off the bat following two leg-byes on the board with a single into the leg side before Karim Sadiq goes haring down the track attempting to smash the Deccan Chargers seamer to Cuba. Unsurprisingly he completely misses both swings. Looks like we've got a live one...
Right, let's play cliche bingo - Whoever hears the following: "minnows", "potential banana skin", "brave" or "fearless" in one sentence wins a hardy slap on the back. We've had the anthems, the teams are out Praveen Kumar will open the bowling in criminally bright sunshine. The Afghanistan team is as follows: Karim Sadiq, Noor Ali, Mohammad Shahzad, Nowroz Mangal (captain), Asghar Stanikzai, Mohammad Nabi, Raees Ahmadzai, Hamid Hassan, Samiullah Shenwari, Dawlat Ahmadzai, Shapoor Zadran.
I've been soaking in as much info as possible on these plucky Afghanis. Pace bowler
Hamid Hassan's blog
has been an enlightening insight, particularly during the team's recent visit to London. Promising wicketkeeper/batsman Mohammad Shahzad couldn't quite believe there are trains that go underground. Nor do most commuters who use the Northern Line daily.
How could I forget? We have more tasty morsels later this evening as defending champions Pakistan take on those ever-improving Bangladeshis. As ever, get involved via the TMS inbox
, text 81111
(with the word CRICKET before your message, otherwise it will get lose in the footy deluge), or via 606
Alison Mitchell on Twitter:
"HUGE sound stage here. Love the vibe but possibly the loudest sound system I've heard at ANY sports event ANYWHERE."
We have tropical news - India have won the toss and will bowl first
. India are as follows: Mahendra Dhoni (capt & wk), Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, Ashish Nehra, Murali Vijay.