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    Afghans retain ACC T20 Cup

    KABUL (PAN): Reigning champions, Afghanistan won the Asian Cricket Council Twenty-20 Cup, outplaying Hong Kong in the final played at the Tribhuvan University Ground in Nepal on Sunday, an official said.

    Batting first in the all-important match, Afghanistan scored 125 runs in the stipulated 20 overs, the national team manager told Pajhwok Afghan News over the telephone from Kathmandu.

    Shafiq Stanikzai said the opposition could score 117 runs for the loss of all wickets, handing the Afghan squad an eight-run triumph in the hotly-contested final.

    For the winners, the manager said, Gulbadin Naib top-scored with 57 off 50 balls. Mohammed Nabi contributed a quick-fire 24. Bowling with a lot of aggression, Munir Dar captured five wickets for Hong Kong.

    Hamid Hasan made the going tough for the rivals, claiming three important wickets and winning the Man of the Match Award. As wickets tumbled at regular intervals, Hong Kong captain James Atkinson managed to score 35 -- albeit at a slow clip.

    With their sixth consecutive win, Afghanistan lifted the cup at stake. Afghans were placed in Group-A, which also included Hong Kong, Oman, Kuwait and the Maldives.

    Group-B featured fancied Nepal along with Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, Bhutan and Saudi Arabia. By the virtue of the result, Afghans have qualified for the International Cricket Council World Twenty20 Cup to be held in 2012.

    The winning captain, Nawroz Mangal, expressed pleasure over the match outcome. He linked the success to the nation's prayers and players' hard work. He particularly praised contributions from Hasan and Nabi.

    Afghanistan Cricket Board Chief Executive Nasimullah Danish, meanwhile, congratulated the team on showing a superb performance. He said the squad chosen on merit rose to the occasion and proved its mettle in a conclusive fashion.