Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ahmadzai inspires Afghanistan win

Hameed Hasan (right)is pumped up after dismissing Niall O'Brien

pulled off their second win in the Intercontinental Cup, defeating defending champions Ireland by seven wickets to propel themselves to the top of the table.

Both teams had talked before the game about the respect they had for each other and in a fluctuating contest, Afghanistan grabbed the initiative to drive home a victory that would have seemed unlikely when Ireland began the final day 39 runs behind with all their second-innings wickets intact.

Paceman Dawlat Ahmadzai proved the difference as he burst through the top order on his way to his maiden five-wicket haul. He struck in the third over of the day to remove a becalmed William Porterfield caught behind for 14 before castling Andrew Cusack in his next over for 4. By the time he bowled Gary Wilson for 27, Ireland were tottering on 57 for three.

Offspinner Mohammad Nabi (4 for 33) then stepped into the action, taking three quick wickets with probing, accurate bowling to reduce Ireland to 101 for seven. Some lust hitting from Trent Johnson and diligent blocking John Mooney, who made 18 from 76 balls, carried the score up to 141 before a final wicket stand of 59 between Johnson and Peter Connell took the score to 202. Johnson ended up unbeaten on 63 to leave Afghanistan with 137 to get.

An early wicket for Johnson gave Ireland a sliver but a half century from Noor Ali and a 36-run partnership from wickkeeper Mohammad Shahzad and captain Nowroz Mengal guided Afghanistan home. It's a remarkable result for Afghanistan who's continued progress in international cricket has been one of the most cheering aspects of the game in recent months.

Afghanistan beat Ireland at cricket

This is an historic day for Afghanistan cricket with their national side defeating Ireland by seven wickets.

Ireland 405 & 202

Afghanistan 474 & 137/3 (31.3 ov)

Afghanistan won by 7 wickets

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Afghans take 2nd day honours

I never thought I would see the day when an Afghan cricket team, plays an international against Ireland, and is now leading after the first innings. Well done Afghanistan!

January 22, 2010

A Afghanistan 263 for 3 (Mangal 84, Shahzad 60*, Noori 44*) trail Ireland 405 (Porterfield 78, Shenwari 4-75) by 142 runs

Afghanistan seized the initiative on the second day of their Intercontinental Cup game against Ireland at Dambulla, reaching 263 for 3 at stumps with Shabir Noori, on 44 not out, and Mohammad Shahzad, unbeaten on 60 from only 62 balls, holding firm.

The pair came together with the game finely balanced at 178 for 3, and added 85 in just under 20 overs to wrest the ascendancy back from Ireland after Andre Botha had ended Noori and captain Nowroz Mangal's 105-run partnership. Mangal had looked set for a maiden first-class hundred before he edged Botha through to Niall O'Brien behind the stumps to depart for 84.

Afghanistan had made a good start to their innings earlier, with Karim Sadiq and Noor Ali putting together 72 before Gary Kidd and Peter Connell struck in quick succession to remove both openers and leave Afghanistan wobbling at 74 for 2. Ireland had to wait 33 overs for their next breakthrough, however, with Noori and Mangal obstinate at the crease.

The highlight of the morning was John Mooney's unbeaten 58, which broke his duck after he had failed to score in his first two first-class innings. Ireland had resumed at 324 for 7, and were soon eight wickets down as legspinner Samiullah Shenwari snapped up Trent Johnston to claim his fourth scalp of the innings. Kidd scratched around for 18 balls before edging Hameed Hasan, but Connell was more enterprising, cracking four boundaries in his 18 before having his stumps rattled by Shapoor Zadran. His tenacious 66-run partnership with Mooney, who accumulated runs steadily at the other end, carried Ireland past 400, which had looked like a sterling effort.

The Irish badly need a victory in this game after drawing against Kenya and Scotland, but that is looking increasingly unlikely with Afghanistan making a fist of things today to build a foundation for a massive first innings total.

Ireland 405 & 1/0 (0.1 ov)

Afghanistan 474

Ireland won the toss and elected to bat

Day 3
ICC Intercontinental Cup
First-class match | 2009/10 season
Played at Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium (neutral venue)
21,22,23,24 January 2010 (4-day match)

Ireland 1st innings R M B 4s 6s SR
WTS Porterfield* c Samiullah Shenwari b Hameed Hasan 78 175 134 7 2 58.20
45.4 caught Samiullah Shenwari 170/2

GC Wilson c Hameed Hasan b Mohammad Nabi 53 114 89 9 0 59.55
28.2 caught Hameed Hasan 120/1

AR Cusack c †Mohammad Shahzad b Samiullah Shenwari 39 96 92 6 0 42.39
54.2 caught †Mohammad Shahzad 203/3

NJ O'Brien† c †Mohammad Shahzad b Karim Sadiq 66 156 119 9 0 55.46
90.1 caught †Mohammad Shahzad 316/6

AC Botha st †Mohammad Shahzad b Samiullah Shenwari 0 7 7 0 0 0.00
56.3 stumped †Mohammad Shahzad 203/4

KJ O'Brien lbw b Samiullah Shenwari 16 53 35 2 0 45.71
66.4 231/5

AR White c Karim Sadiq b Hameed Hasan 43 90 89 6 0 48.31
93.4 caught Karim Sadiq 323/7

JF Mooney not out 58 105 90 9 0 64.44

DT Johnston lbw b Samiullah Shenwari 2 23 20 0 0 10.00
100.4 328/8

GE Kidd c †Mohammad Shahzad b Hameed Hasan 4 17 18 0 0 22.22
105.2 caught †Mohammad Shahzad 339/9

P Connell b Shapoor Zadran 18 51 28 4 0 64.28
117.6 bowled 405/10

Extras (lb 13, w 2, nb 13) 28

Total (all out; 118 overs; 404 mins) 405 (3.43 runs per over)
Fall of wickets1-120 (Wilson, 28.2 ov), 2-170 (Porterfield, 45.4 ov), 3-203 (Cusack, 54.2 ov), 4-203 (Botha, 56.3 ov), 5-231 (KJ O'Brien, 66.4 ov), 6-316 (NJ O'Brien, 90.1 ov), 7-323 (White, 93.4 ov), 8-328 (Johnston, 100.4 ov), 9-339 (Kidd, 105.2 ov), 10-405 (Connell, 117.6 ov)

Bowling O M R W Econ
Dawlat Ahmadzai 11 2 32 0 2.90

Shapoor Zadran 10 1 33 1 3.30
117.6 to Connell, bowled 405/10

Hameed Hasan 24 4 91 3 3.79 (13nb)
45.4 to Porterfield, caught Samiullah Shenwari 170/2

93.4 to White, caught Karim Sadiq 323/7

105.2 to Kidd, caught †Mohammad Shahzad 339/9

Noor Ali 2 0 21 0 10.50 (1w)

Mohammad Nabi 27 3 102 1 3.77
28.2 to Wilson, caught Hameed Hasan 120/1

Samiullah Shenwari 27 5 75 4 2.77
54.2 to Cusack, caught †Mohammad Shahzad 203/3

56.3 to Botha, stumped †Mohammad Shahzad 203/4

66.4 to KJ O'Brien, 231/5

100.4 to Johnston, 328/8

Karim Sadiq 15 5 31 1 2.06 (1w)
90.1 to NJ O'Brien, caught †Mohammad Shahzad 316/6

Nowroz Mangal 2 0 7 0 3.50

Afghanistan 1st innings R M B 4s 6s SR
Karim Sadiq b Kidd 19 75 46 4 0 41.30
18.2 bowled 72/1

Noor Ali c †NJ O'Brien b Connell 53 89 71 9 0 74.64
21.3 caught †NJ O'Brien 74/2

Shabir Noori c KJ O'Brien b White 85 331 234 10 0 36.32
101.1 caught KJ O'Brien 342/5

Nowroz Mangal* c †NJ O'Brien b Botha 84 118 114 16 0 73.68
54.1 caught †NJ O'Brien 178/3

Mohammad Shahzad† c †NJ O'Brien b Botha 88 167 121 15 0 72.72
93.1 caught †NJ O'Brien 325/4

Asghar Stanikzai b Johnston 39 122 96 5 0 40.62
124.4 bowled 414/6

Mohammad Nabi c Mooney b White 64 68 127 4 2 50.39
143.1 caught Mooney 461/8

Samiullah Shenwari lbw b Botha 19 46 35 2 0 54.28
136.4 453/7

Dawlat Ahmadzai not out 7 61 48 0 0 14.58

Hameed Hasan c †NJ O'Brien b White 7 17 16 0 1 43.75
147.6 caught †NJ O'Brien 468/9

Shapoor Zadran lbw b White 2 21 15 0 0 13.33
153.2 474/10

Extras (b 1, lb 3, nb 3) 7

Total (all out; 153.2 overs; 574 mins) 474 (3.09 runs per over)
Fall of wickets1-72 (Karim Sadiq, 18.2 ov), 2-74 (Noor Ali, 21.3 ov), 3-178 (Nowroz Mangal, 54.1 ov), 4-325 (Mohammad Shahzad, 93.1 ov), 5-342 (Shabir Noori, 101.1 ov), 6-414 (Asghar Stanikzai, 124.4 ov), 7-453 (Samiullah Shenwari, 136.4 ov), 8-461 (Mohammad Nabi, 143.1 ov), 9-468 (Hameed Hasan, 147.6 ov), 10-474 (Shapoor Zadran, 153.2 ov)

Bowling O M R W Econ
P Connell 21 9 52 1 2.47
21.3 to Noor Ali, caught †NJ O'Brien 74/2

DT Johnston 26 5 88 1 3.38 (2nb)
124.4 to Asghar Stanikzai, bowled 414/6

AR Cusack 11 1 56 0 5.09

GE Kidd 24 8 68 1 2.83
18.2 to Karim Sadiq, bowled 72/1

JF Mooney 7 1 38 0 5.42 (1nb)

AR White 31.2 8 99 4 3.15
101.1 to Shabir Noori, caught KJ O'Brien 342/5

143.1 to Mohammad Nabi, caught Mooney 461/8

147.6 to Hameed Hasan, caught †NJ O'Brien 468/9

153.2 to Shapoor Zadran, 474/10

AC Botha 21 6 44 3 2.09
54.1 to Nowroz Mangal, caught †NJ O'Brien 178/3

93.1 to Mohammad Shahzad, caught †NJ O'Brien 325/4

136.4 to Samiullah Shenwari, 453/7

KJ O'Brien 12 3 25 0 2.08

Ireland 2nd innings R M B 4s 6s SR
WTS Porterfield* not out 0 0 1 0 0 0.00

GC Wilson not out 0 0 0 0 0 -

Extras (w 1) 1

Total (0 wickets; 0.1 overs) 1 (6.00 runs per over)
To bat AR Cusack, P Connell, AR White, DT Johnston, AC Botha, GE Kidd, JF Mooney, KJ O'Brien, NJ O'Brien†

Bowling O M R W Econ
Shapoor Zadran 0.1 0 1 0 6.00 (1w)

Match details
Toss Ireland, who chose to bat
Points Afghanistan 6*, Ireland 0*

First-class debuts Karim Sadiq and Shabir Noori (Afghanistan)

Umpires R Martinesz and TH Wijewardene
Match referee Ishtiaq Ahmed (Pakistan)
Reserve umpire SSK Gallage

Close of play
21 Jan day 1 - Ireland 1st innings 324/7 (JF Mooney 5*, DT Johnston 0*, 98 ov)
22 Jan day 2 - Afghanistan 1st innings 263/3 (Shabir Noori 44*, Mohammad Shahzad 60*, 74 ov)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

$57,077.60. That's what the US is paying per minute for the war in Afghanistan

I just got back from a holiday in Thailand where I had a chance to read all those books that have been piling up during the past year. The one that startled me the most was Greg Mortensen's (right) Three Cups of Tea. What a ripper. I have criss-crossed Greg's footsteps in northern Pakistan and in Badakhshan, Afghanistanin in the 90s and early this decade, but unfortunately we never met.

A little about Mortensen.
In July 1992, Mortenson’s sister, Christa, died from a massive seizure after a lifelong struggle with epilepsy on the eve of a trip to visit Dysersville, Iowa, where the baseball movie, ‘Field of Dreams’, was filmed in a cornfield.

To honor his sister’s memory, in 1993, Mortenson climbed Pakistan’s K2, the world’s second highest mountain in the Karakoram range.

While recovering from the climb in a village called Korphe, Mortenson met a group of children sitting in the dirt writing with sticks in the sand, and made a promise to help them build a school.

From that rash promise, grew a remarkable humanitarian campaign, in which Mortenson has dedicated his life to promote education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

As of 2009, Mortenson has established or significantly supports 131 schools in rural and often volatile regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, which provide education to over 58,000 children, including 44,000 girls, where few education opportunities existed before.

Contrast the hard-won US20,000 Greg Mortensen scrapped together for his first school in Pakistan to the US$ 57,077.60 the US is spending on the current war in Afghanistan

This story first appeared on the Tom Dispatch website.

$57,077.60. That's what we're paying per minute. Keep that in mind—just for a minute or so.

After all, the surge is already on. By the end of December, the first 1,500 US troops will have landed in Afghanistan, a nation roughly the size of Texas, ranked by the United Nations as second worst in the world in terms of human development.

Women and men from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, will be among the first to head out. It takes an estimated $1 million to send each of them surging into Afghanistan for one year. So a 30,000-person surge will be at least $30 billion, which brings us to that $57,077.60. That's how much it will cost you, the taxpayer, for one minute of that surge.

By the way, add up the yearly salary of a Marine from Camp Lejeune with four years of service, throw in his or her housing allowance, additional pay for dependents, and bonus pay for hazardous duty, imminent danger, and family separation, and you'll still be many thousands of dollars short of that single minute's sum.
.Continues Below

A SURGE IN AFGHANISTAN?....Iraq is hardly a finished success story yet, but there's no question that violence is down, security is up, and political reconciliation is at least a distant possibility. Credit for this goes to the Five S's: Surge...
Continued From Above
.But perhaps this isn't a time to quibble. After all, a job is a job, especially in the United States, which has lost seven million jobs since December 2007, while reporting record-high numbers of people seeking assistance to feed themselves and/or their families. According to the US Department of Agriculture, 36 million Americans, including one out of every four children, are currently on food stamps.

On the other hand, given the woeful inadequacy of that "safety net," we might have chosen to direct the $30 billion in surge expenditures toward raising the average individual monthly Food Stamp allotment by $70 for the next year; that's roughly an additional trip to the grocery store, every month, for 36 million people. Alternatively, we could have dedicated that $30 billion to job creation. According to a recent report issued by the Political Economy Research Institute, that sum could generate a whopping 537,810 construction jobs, 541,080 positions in healthcare, fund 742,740 teachers or employ 831,390 mass transit workers.

For purposes of comparison, $30 billion—remember, just the Pentagon-estimated cost of a 30,000-person troop surge—is equal to 80% of the total US 2010 budget for international affairs, which includes monies for development and humanitarian assistance. On the domestic front, $30 billion could double the funding (at 2010 levels) for the Children's Health Insurance Program and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Or think of the surge this way: if the United States decided to send just 29,900 extra soldiers to Afghanistan, 100 short of the present official total, it could double the amount of money—$100 million—it has allocated to assist refugees and returnees from Afghanistan through the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

Leaving aside the fact that the United States already accounts for 45% of total global military spending, the $30 billion surge cost alone would place us in the top-ten for global military spending, sandwiched between Italy and Saudi Arabia. Spent instead on "soft security" measures within Afghanistan, $30 billion could easily build, furnish and equip enough schools for the entire nation.

Continuing this nod to the absurd for just one more moment, if you received a silver dollar every second, it would take you 960 years to haul in that $30 billion. Not that anyone could hold so much money. Together, the coins would weigh nearly 120 tons, or more than the poundage of 21,000 Asian elephants, an aircraft carrier, or the Washington Monument. Converted to dollar bills and laid end-to-end, $30 billion would reach 2.9 million miles or 120 times around the Earth.

One more thing, that $30 billion isn't even the real cost of Obama's surge. It's just a minimum, through-the-basement estimate. If you were to throw in all the bases being built, private contractors hired, extra civilians sent in, and the staggering costs of training a larger Afghan army and police force (a key goal of the surge), the figure would surely be startlingly higher. In fact, total Afghanistan War spending for 2010 is now expected to exceed $102.9 billion, doubling last year's Afghan spending. Thought of another way, it breaks down to $12 million per hour in taxpayer dollars for one year. That's equal to total annual US spending on all veteran's benefits, from hospital stays to education.

In Afghan terms, our upcoming single year of war costs represents nearly five times that country's gross domestic product or $3,623.70 for every Afghan woman, man, and child. Given that the average annual salary for an Afghan soldier is $2,880 and many Afghans seek employment in the military purely out of economic desperation, this might be a wise investment—especially since the Taliban is able to pay considerably more for its new recruits. In fact, recent increases in much-needed Afghan recruits appear to correlate with the promise of a pay raise.

All of this is, of course, so much fantasy, since we know just where that $30-plus billion will be going. In 2010, total Afghanistan War spending since November 2001 will exceed $325 billion, which equals the combined annual military spending of Great Britain, China, France, Japan, Germany, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. If we had never launched an invasion of Afghanistan or stayed on fighting all these years, those war costs, evenly distributed in this country, would have meant a $2,298.80 dividend per US taxpayer.

Even as we calculate the annual cost of war, the tens of thousands of Asian elephants in the room are all pointing to $1 trillion in total war costs for Iraq and Afghanistan. The current escalation in Afghanistan coincides with that rapidly-approaching milestone. In fact, thanks to Peter Baker's recent New York Times report on the presidential deliberations that led to the surge announcement, we know that the trillion-dollar number for both wars may be a gross underestimate. The Office of Management and Budget sent President Obama a memo, Baker tells us, suggesting that adding General McChrystal's surge to ongoing war costs, over the next 10 years, could mean—forget Iraq—a trillion dollar Afghan War.

At just under one-third of the 2010 US federal budget, $1 trillion essentially defies per-hour-per-soldier calculations. It dwarfs all other nations' military spending, let alone their spending on war. It makes a mockery of food stamps and schools. To make sense of this cost, we need to leave civilian life behind entirely and turn to another war. We have to reach back to the Vietnam War, which in today's dollars cost $709.9 billion—or $300 billion less than the total cost of the two wars we're still fighting, with no end in sight, or even $300 billion less than the long war we may yet fight in Afghanistan.

[Note: Jo would like to acknowledge the analysis and numbers crunching of Chris Hellman and Mary Orisich, members of the National Priorities Project's research team, without whom this piece would not have been possible.]