Vibrant Afghanistan pulls maiden World Cup triumph


DUNEDIN: Featuring in their first ever World Cup spectacle, Afghanistan pulled their first triumph in World Cup beating fellow associates Scotland by a narrow margin of one wicket here at University Oval.

Chasing a target of 211 runs, Afghanistan was reduced to 97-7 by a comparatively experienced Scotland side. Opener Javed Ahmadi (51) gave something to the Afghanistan side to stand on, before middle order batsman Samiullah Shenwari took the charge as wickets fell regularly on the other end.

Seven of Afghanistan batsmen – namely, Nawroz Mangal (7), Asghar Stanikzai (4), Captain Mohammad Nabi (1), Afsar Zazai (duck), Nabiullah Zadran (4), Gulbuddin Naib (duck) and Dawlat Zadran (9) failed to reach double figures.

Shenwari came on the crease when Afghanistan had lost two wickets for 46. He put 39 with Ahmadi before he also lost his wicket scoring run-a-ball 51, with team score of 85-3.

When the wickets were regularly falling, Shenwari stayed on crease and took his side with a victory just around the corner. However, he lost his wicket when Afghanistan still needed 19 runs to win with as many balls remaining.

After thrilling final moments – tail-enders Hamid Hasan (15 not out) and Shapoor Zadran (12 not out) helped their record first World Cup win.

Earlier, Afghanistan restricted Scotland 210-10 off the final ball of their allotted 50 overs after winning the toss and deciding to field first.

AFP adds: Afghanistan’s decision to bowl first after winning the toss paid early dividends on a green wicket but a 62-run ninth-wicket stand took Scotland past 200 for the first time in three World Cup campaigns.

Their previous best was 186 against South Africa at the 2007 tournament.

Several of Scotland’s batsmen made starts but could not convert them in the face of a spirited Afghan bowling effort.

Left-arm paceman Shapoor Zadran led the Afghan attack with four for 38.

While Scotland set a relatively low total, they will be hoping for a repeat of their last performance against Afghanistan in January, when they skittled them out for just 63.

Dawlat Zadrad, who took three for 29, had the new ball swinging viciously and struck in the second over to dismiss Calum MacLeod for a duck.

The luckless MacLeod hit the ball straight to Najibullah Zadran at backward point, continuing a poor run at the tournament that has seen him score four runs in three innings.

Hamid Hassan, the bandanna-wearing paceman who bases his look on Sylvester Stallone’s “Rambo”, maintained the pressure, trapping Hamish Gardiner lbw for five in the 11th over.

Scotland dangerman Kyle Coetzer (25) followed Gardiner to the pavilion two balls later, clean bowled when he carelessly attempted to swat Dawlat to the boundary.

Skipper Preston Mommsen and Matt Machan combined to steady the innings, bringing up a 53-run partnership off 61 deliveries.

But a slower ball from Mohammad Nabi deceived Machan, who was bowled for 31, with Mommsen (23) gone in the next over when he feathered an edge to wicketkeeper Afsar Zazai.

Zazai then left Scotland reeling at 132 for six when he took a superb diving catch to send Matthew Cross on his way for 15.

With Scotland desperately needing the tail to wag, Majid Haq (31) and Alasdair Evans (28) added valuable runs with their ninth-wicket partnership.