Poignant scenes as former captain quits cricket at T20 World Cup

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·Sports Editor
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Asghar Afghan, pictured here being given a guard of honour as he made his way to the crease.
Asghar Afghan was given a guard of honour as he made his way to the crease. Image: Twitter

Afghanistan have given former captain Asghar Afghan the perfect send-off at the T20 World Cup, defeating Namibia by 62 runs in his farewell match.

Afghan scored 31 off 23 balls in Abu Dhabi, going out in style after a 17-year career during which he helped Afghanistan rise from the depths of the World League's fifth division to full Test status.

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The match result was largely overshadowed by the news that Afghan was playing his last match for the victors after a memorable career.

So dedicated was Afghan that he actually changed his surname from Stanikzai in 2018, "in honour of protecting the national identity of Afghan citizens".

Before Sunday's match the former captain made the shock announcement that it would be the last of his international career.

He was given a guard of honour by Namibia - the 40th international team he has played against - on his way to the crease, and another by his teammates after being dismissed.

Afghanistan racked up 5-160 having elected to bat first, a total that proved beyond Namibia, who were restricted to 9-98.

"I want to give a chance to youngsters," said an emotional Afghan, who represented his country in six Tests, 114 one-day internationals and 75 T20s.

Asghar Afghan, pictured here making his way off the field under a guard of honour.
Asghar Afghan makes his way off the field under a guard of honour. (Photo by Gareth Copley-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

"I think this is a good opportunity for that.

"Most people are asking me why now, but it's something I cannot explain. 

"In the last match, we were hurt too much, and that's why I decided to retire. 

"There are plenty of memories, it's difficult for me, but I have to retire."

The cricket world was moved by the poignant and heartbreaking scenes.

Afghanistan send Asghar Afghan out a winner

Hazratullah Zazai (33) and Mohammad Shahzad (45) put on 53 for the first wicket, laying the foundations for a decent total for Afghanistan, while captain Mohammad Nabi's unbeaten 32 off 17 balls helped them finish with a flourish.

Although Afghanistan were without Mujeeb Ur Rahman, their bowling attack still had too much for a Namibia side that claimed a famous win over Scotland in their opening Super 12s fixture on Wednesday.

Fast bowler Hamid Hassan came in for Mujeeb and profited from the spinner's absence with sensational figures of three for nine from four overs, while fellow quick Naveen-ul-Haq also took three wickets as Namibia fell well short.

Naveen-ul-Haq dedicated his player-of-the-match award to former Afghan.

"I made my debut under his captaincy, so I want to dedicate it to him," the 22-year-old said at the presentation ceremony.

with AAP

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