Iraq brush past Yemen to set up Iran decider

raq's forward Mohanad Ali Kadhim Alshammari (C) atttempts a shot. (AFP)
Updated 12 January 2019
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Iraq brush past Yemen to set up Iran decider

  • Iraq to face rivals Iran to decide which side tops Group D.

LONDON: Iraq illustrated why they could go all the way with an impressive and assured 3-0 win over Yemen in Sharjah.
The Lions of Mesopotamia never looked anything but winners in the Group D clash, victory confirming their presence in the second round, with Wednesday’s match against Iran set to decide who tops the group.
In the very early stages Yemen took the game to the favorites but from the moment Iraq began to dominate possession there was only going to be one winner.
They soon put Yemen under pressure and it was no surprise when Muhanad Ali put Iraq in front after just 11 minutes.
Yemen goalkeeper Saoud Al-Sowadi found himself under incessant pressure, facing wave after wave of attacks. He and the Yemen defence were not able to keep out the Iraqis and Al-Saowadi conceded the second goal in the 19th minute when Bashar Resan Bonyan’s strike from the edge of the box bounced off the right post before hitting the back of the net.
Iraq took their foot off the pedal and allowed Yemen the chance of pulling one back — Ahmed Saeed’s right-footed shot from outside the box well saved by Jalal Hassan Hachim in the Iraq goal.
There was never any real chance of a comeback, however, and Srecko Katanec’s team made sure of the three points with a goal in the dying minutes. Alaa Abbas scoring with a left-footed shot from the centre of the box to wrap up victory.


Afghanistan can beat any Test side in the world, claims all-rounder Mohammad Nabi

Updated 28 min 32 sec ago
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Afghanistan can beat any Test side in the world, claims all-rounder Mohammad Nabi

  • Maiden Test win give Afghans confidence they can take on anyone.
  • Mohammad Nabi praises spin kings after win over the Irish.

LONDON: Mohammad Nabi has claimed that on their day Afghanistan can beat any Test side in the world.
The veteran all-rounder was speaking after helping his side claim their first Test win — a seven-wicket victory over Ireland — in just their second ever Test. Afghanistan, who lost the debut Test to India in just two days last year, joined an elite list of cricketing nations after winning their second five-day game.
Australia won their debut Test in 1877 and England and Pakistan won in their second Test outing.
That has Nabi dreaming that this is just the start for Afghanistan, s long as the batsmen give the bowling attack enough runs to defend on a consistent basis.
“It’s a very historic day for whole of Afghanistan,” the 34-year-old said. “Especially for those guys who bring cricket from zero to the Test cricket. We played two games and we won one.
“When you win then teams will tell you to come and play with them. Nobody plays a weak team. They might think that Afghanistan is weak but not so much that we can’t fight them.
“We have the world’s best spinners and we try to concentrate on our batting line-up. If we can put up a good score on board then we are confident of beating any team in the world.”
While a case of being able to beat any team in the world might be tough to make, it is hard to overstate the significance of the win against Ireland. As with the Irish Nabi’s team only achieved Test status two years ago, they only played their first ODI in 2009 and the confidence and class is clearly oozing throughout the squad.
Rahmat Shah top-scored with 76 and Ihsanullah Janat hit an unbeaten 65 to lead Afghanistan’s successful chase of 147 in the opening session of day four against Ireland in Dehradun in India.
Shah, who hit his second fifty of the match after making 98 in Afghanistan’s first innings score of 314, and Janat put on a match-winning stand of 139 for the second wicket.
Star leg-spinner Rashid Khan also played a key role in his team’s historic triumph after returning career-best figures of five for 82 to bowl out Ireland for 288 in their second innings.
Khan along with fellow spinners Nabi and Waqar Salamkheil accounted for 14 of the 20 Irish wickets to fall during the one-off match between the minnows.
Since overcoming the odds to compete in the 2010 World T20 in England, the Afghan team has managed to qualify for all the major international tournaments and they now await their second appearance in the upcoming 50-over World Cup.
But Nabi insisted a Test win is always special.
“Every format is different. Test has a different flavour to it. We played a lot of T20 and one-day matches and won but Test win was first,” Nabi said.”The way our guys performed in batting and bowling, the kind of comebacks that we did.... It shows we are ready for Test cricket.”