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Fast bowler confident of reaching I Cup final

Afghanistan's star bowler Hamid Hassan has revealed that he had battled with severe pain to bowl his side to an excellent victory over Scotland in the top-of-the-table ICC Intercontinental Cup clash in Ayr on Saturday

Afghanistan's star bowler Hamid Hassan has revealed that he had battled with severe pain to bowl his side to an excellent victory over Scotland in the top-of-the-table ICC Intercontinental Cup clash in Ayr on Saturday.

His 11 wickets in the match against Scotland, a game that the Afghans won by 229 runs, helped Afghanistan to top spot in the table and gave the 23-year-old fast bowler his career-best figures of 11-154.

"I was very worried about my ankle and I bowled too many overs on it. I bowled 27 overs with an ankle injury, but everybody was trying very hard to take a wicket and we all performed well," said Hamid.

"It was a big achievement for me to get a ten-wicket haul but I was really just focused on getting a victory for my team.

"I said to my colleagues that I was going to take a risk with my injury and do whatever it took to take the wickets. The doctor told me not to bowl, but I wanted to, so he bandaged me from my ankle to my knee, which is why I was able to bowl. It was a very good game and I am very pleased with my performance."

The win, Afghanistan's fourth in five matches in the competition, has put it eight points clear at the top of the table with just one of its group matches remaining, which will be away to Kenya in October. The team is therefore unsurprisingly confident that it can add the ICC Intercontinental Cup title to the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier trophy that it won earlier in the year and qualify for the final of the competition which will be played in Dubai in November.

"We are feeling confident as we have not lost a game in the I Cup so far ?we have won all our games so far apart from one match which we drew. We hope we will get a good result against Kenya as well," said Hamid.

"We are now in first position in the table and we are all very happy. Everybody worked very hard in batting and bowling and we all gave it 100 per cent. We will be trying our best to get in the final and bring the ICC Intercontinental Cup back to Afghanistan," said Hamid.

"For me, my team and my country it would be a huge achievement to win the ICC Intercontinental Cup as for the last few years Ireland has been the champion. If we become the champion it will be absolutely amazing."

Hamid believes that his side has really benefitted from the experience of playing in the ICC Intercontinental Cup and thinks that exposure to the longer format of the sport will have a positive impact on his country's performance in all formats of the game.

"Four-day cricket is a very patient game and you have to focus on all areas of your game. You have to concentrate on bowling really good balls to get out the batters, while our batters have learnt to wait to hit the loose ball.

"For me it is a very enjoyable form of the game as you have to learn to be patient and we have learnt lots of things. It is good for us to play four-day cricket as it helps us improve in one-day cricket as well.

Attention now moves towards the two-match ODI series between Scotland and Afghanistan which begins on Monday, which Hamid is still hopeful he may be fit for.

"My ankle is really hurting at the moment and when it is cold it hurts to move my ankle. Hopefully I will be able to be fit so I can help my country win the ODI matches as well," he said.

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