A teary-eyed Asghar Afghan said his decision to retire in the middle of the ongoing T20 World Cup was triggered by the pain that he and his teammates endured after Afghanistan's heart-breaking loss to Pakistan in their previous match.
Afghanistan suffered a five-wicket loss in their Super 12 match against Pakistan in which Asif Ali smashed four sixes in the penultimate over, with the team requiring 24 off the last two overs, to end the contest. Less than 24 hours after the match, former skipper Afghan, who holds the record of most T20I wins as captain, announced his decision to retire after the match against Namibia.
"In the last match, we were hurt too much, and that's why I decided to retire," Asghar, who has led Afghanistan in 115 matches, said wiping his tears during a chat after the end of the first innings.
"There are plenty of memories, it's difficult for me, but I have to retire."
The 33-year-old played six Tests, 114 ODIs and 75 T20Is, including the Namibia match, in a creditable career, scoring 4246 runs across formats. "I want to give chance to youngsters. I think this is a good opportunity for that. Most people are asking me why now but it's something I cannot explain," said Afghan, who scored a 23-ball 31 on Sunday.
The ICC congratulated Asghar for a superb career that has seen him play a crucial role in his country's rise in international cricket. The batter has been a part of all seven major ICC tournaments that Afghanistan have participated in.
ICC acting chief executive Geoff Allardice said: "Asghar has been a great ambassador of the game and played a huge part in Afghanistan's rise up the ranks in world cricket.
"He has played a pivotal role as batter and led his team astutely during his time as captain. On behalf of the ICC, I wish him all the best for the future and hope that he continues to be associated with the game in the years to come."
Asghar captained his country in their first-ever Test match against India in 2018 and at the T20 World Cup 2016. Afghanistan will next play India on November 3 and New Zealand on November 7. The team is playing at the ICC event at a time when the country itself is in turmoil following the Taliban takeover.
The future of Afghan cricketers is also uncertain due to the drastic changes in the political landscape. The Taliban have already barred women from playing the game.