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I will remember this World Cup for the rest of my life: Naveen-ul-Haq

Chennai: Afghanistan pacer Naveen-ul-Haq will remember the ongoing World Cup for the rest of his life for his team’s inspiring success but the fast bowler won’t reverse his decision to retire from the One-Day format at the end of the tournament.

Afghanistan created ripples with their win over defending champions England last week and on Monday the team from the strife-torn nation exceeded expectations by drubbing Pakistan with consummate ease.

The 24-year-old Naveen had made a shock announcement last month that he would quit the ODIs at the end of the World Cup in India.

He took the decision to prolong his T20 career.

Now that Afghanistan’s performance has created a huge impact, he was asked if he would rethink his retirement decision.

“Not at all. That’s the final decision I have made. Luckily, I will remember this World Cup for the rest of my life,” Naveen-ul-Haq told reporters after Afghanistan’s first ever victory over Pakistan.

Naveen dedicated the victory to his people back home.

“It does mean a lot back home to the people of our country. We all know the situation back home. There was also an earthquake that happened a few days ago. There is not a lot of happiness in the country without cricket. So, at least we have given them some moments of happiness tonight. Going deeper into the tournament, every game and two points count. The win tonight (Monday) is quite big for us.”

Naveen admitted that there are areas that they still need to improve, majorly being leaking runs at the closing stages of the innings, as Pakistan scored 101 runs in the last ten overs.

“We still have a lot of things to be improved, especially the way we conceded a few runs at the back end of the innings. They played well, but we can improve and do well in the upcoming games.”

Naveen, who plays for Lucknow Super Giants in the IPL, also gave credit to the tournament for shaping their players for this World Cup.

“That’s true. IPL happens here in India, and along with that experience, coming and playing here (in Chennai) or any other venue does give you a lot of confidence.”

Afghan spinner Noor Ahmad returned with impressive figures of three for 49 on his World Cup debut on Monday.

While he disclosed that he is very close to all-rounder Mohammad Nabi, who has been giving him healthy tips, he admitted that it is not easy to get a chance in the playing XI alongside fellow spinners Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan.

“Getting a chance alongside Mujeeb and Rashid is very tough. But, somehow I got the chance to play, and I just wanted to deliver my best. We are always together, whether we are practising or in a match. I always gain some positive experience from them. It means a lot to me.”

Talking about the Chepauk track, he said it is unpredictable.

“The Chennai wicket changes rapidly – sometimes it’s bowling-friendly, and sometimes it favours batting. It’s like an unknown situation. I have played IPL, so I have it in my mind that the wicket will be good for bowling, and which grip should I use and how should I go in my plan. It helps a lot,” he signed off.

(Published 24 October 2023, 08:58 IST)

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