Jersey records its first victory in the tournament while Italy and Tanzania match forced into reserv
Mohammad Nabi was once again the hero for Afghanistan when he helped his side take a step closer to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011with an excellent all-round performance in Dar Es Salaam on Wednesday.
The 23-year-old all-rounder took 5-32 with his off-spin bowling to restrict Hong Kong to 206-9 and then hit a match-winning 70 as Afghanistan become the first side in the tournament to win a game batting second when it achieved victory with two balls and four wickets to spare.
But with Afghanistan facing a difficult final match against Italy, whose clash with Tanzania will be played tomorrow after rain meant there was no play at the University today, and Hong Kong facing Jersey on Friday there is still plenty to play for in the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 4.
Hong Kong looked like setting a huge target for Afghanistan when it reached 152-2 in 40 overs. But accurate bowling in the last 10 overs, particularly by Nabi, allowed Hong Kong to collect only 54 runs.
Zain Abbas, who has been one of the most consistent batsmen of the event, top scored with 69 that came off 119 balls and included five fours. Together with Roy Lamsam (35), Abbas added 84 runs for the third wicket.
Afghanistan got off to a flying start with Karim Khan slapping five fours in a 13-ball 20. But Hong Kong spinners, backed up by smart fielding, tightened the screws around Afghanistan which was reduced to 48-3 in 18.5 overs.
And when it looked Hong Kong would repeat the same performance which earned it victory over Afghanistan in the ACC Trophy semi-final, captain Narooz Mangal and Nabi turned the match on its head with a decisive 105-run fourth wicket partnership. The two batsmen batted sensible by nudging and pushing the ball around for ones and twos without wasting any opportunity to punish the bad ball.
As the momentum shifted in Afghanistan's favour, Hong Kong's fielders showed greasy palms and dropped catches at crucial stages of the game.
Mangal fell soon after registering his half-century that came off 65 balls and included six fours, Nabi continued by scoring runs all around the wicket. His sparkling 78-ball innings also included three huge sixes – two of which went out of the ground.
Although Nabi failed to see his side home, Afghanistan scored the required seven runs in the last over with two balls to spare with victory sealed by a blazing shot over the covers for a four by Samiullah Shenwari.
Man of the match Nabi said: "It was a very good performance and I am very happy with our team. It was a turning track and I used the doosra effectively. It is very important for us.
Nabi admitted that coach Kabir Khan had provided some vital advice for him and his captain after three wickets were down. "Our coach told us to bat 50 overs and just concentrate on singles. He said if we succeeded in batting full 50 overs, we would win the match and we did exactly that," added Nabi.
Hong Kong captain Tabarak Dar was disappointed with the result but believed his side was still capable of earning promotion. "It was a very close game and it could have gone either way," he said.
"We dropped a couple of catches and I think that cost us the game. We have Friday's game in hand and we can still qualify from this tournament."
Jersey inflicted another defeat on Fiji after an excellent batting display which saw it make 228-4 in 40 overs. The Gough brothers showed good form with the bat with Jonathan (75) and Peter (41) making valuable contributions. They received good support from all-rounder Ryan Driver (46 not out).
In reply, Fiji put up its best batting display of the tournament, making 149 all out. But its effort was not enough to win the game.
Jersey's promising young spinner Ben Stevens was the star of the show with 4-46.
The eagerly anticipated clash between Tanzania and Italy was rescheduled for Thursday's after not a single ball was bowled because of rain. The Tournament Technical Committee has decided to move the match from University to Anadil Burhani.
In Friday's matches, which will see the final group games of the tournament, Fiji plays Tanzania, Hong Kong takes on Jersey and Italy plays Afghanistan.
For scorecards, photos and post-match reaction from the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 4 please go to www.pepsiiccworldcricketleague.com
Afghanistan beat Hong Kong by 4 wickets at Anadil Burhani
Hong Kong 206-9, 50 overs (Zain Abbas 69, Roy Lamsam 35, Butt Hussain 34; Mohammad Nabi 5-32)
Afghanistan 209-6, 49.4 overs (Mohammad Nabi 70, Narooz Mangal 50)
Jersey beat Fiji by 79 runs at Leaders Club, match reduced to 40 overs per side
Jersey 228-4, 40 overs (Jonathan Gough 75, Ryan Driver 46 not out, Peter Gough 41)
Fiji 149 all out, 33.4 overs (Joe Rika 35, Ben Stevens 4-46)
Tanzania v Italy at University, Match Abandoned without a ball being bowled
The game will now be played on Thursday 9 October at Anadil Burhani.