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Etisalat Trophy Day 4: Khowst beats Balkh in a controversial fixture

TCP 22.05.2010 20:49

Balkh_khost

It was expected that Panjshir and Balkh (first and second respectively in group A) will play this morning in NYCG. The fixture was changed when hundreds of Khowst’s spectators occupied the pitch supporting their team’s objection on the method used for determining the two teams to play in quarter final. Khostis riot continued for four hours until ACB changed competition’s rules allowing Khost to still compete in the Trophy.

Earlier this morning ACB ruled Panjshir and Balkh to compete for Group A’s seat in the Semi Finals. Rules  for this trophy were saying that two teams with the highest run rate out of the three winners in each group will compete in quarter final; Panjshir came first and Balkh the second. Khost (third in Group A) objected. The main objection from Khowst’s side came from Khowst provincial representative in ACB who did not accept using run rate to decide the top two teams. Khowst demanded to be given a second chance.

 Khowst’s representative argued that he was not present at the ACB meeting when rules for the competition were decided and does not accept the method used; he however did not say why his side did not raise such objection before.  But it was the ministers in President Hamid Karzai’s cabinet, tribal leaders and parliamentarians who pressurized ACB to suddenly change its rules for the competition allowing Khowst to still compete. It is unknown who persuaded the ministers, tribal leaders, and parliamentarians to intervene in the matter.  ACB sources told The Cricket Post that they were asked not to upset Khowst’s spectators. Sources added, ACB had fear Khowstis riot may lead to a fight in the ground.

Khost's spectators behavior remained awful during the match. They stepped into the ground cebrating big shots their team played or a wicket it has taken. They flooded the pitch after Khowst won the match.

Change in the rules will apply to all four groups. Hence each group will see five matches instead of four as was planned before.

ACB’s chairman Dr. Hazrat Omer Zakhilwal is the Finance Minister in President Hamid Karzai cabinet which exposes him to political pressure from parliamentarians and power brokers, this time in relation to cricket. This is second time he positively responded to political pressure in cricket. Last year he sent a player with U19 squad to Canada without being selected by the selectors because player’s father pressurized him.

Some of Balkh players complained to The Cricket Post that they were not given their rights because they do not have strong political and tribal back up.

Cricket fans in Afghanistan will miss the wonderful skipper of Balkh (allrounder Abdullah Mazari) in the rest of tournament and will watch how Khowstis behave tomorrow. They have not set up a good image for themselves and their politicians set up a wrong precedent of political intervention in Afghan cricket.

ACB was the loser of the day accepting pressure from politicians and leaving weak immage for iteself.

Due to Khowstis riots, today’s match was reduced to 25 overs. Balkh won the toss and elected to field first. Khowst made 110 runs for 8 wickets in 25 overs. Balkh lost by 11 runs losing all 10 wickets in 25 overs.

Brief score card:

Team Runs Overs Lost Wicket
Khowst 110 25 8
Balkh 99 25 10

 Khowst and Panjshir will play tomorrow. Hopefully ACB won’t change its rules again if Panjshir raise objections as they also have some powerful power brokers and ministers in Mr. Karzai’s cabinet who are known for their zero tolerance when it comes to the rights of Panjshiris.

The match will be telecasted live by Shamshad TV.

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