Wins for Afghanistan and Scotland on day one of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2015
Two of the favourites to top Group B of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2015 got off to winning starts in Edinburgh on Thursday with Afghanistan eventually overcoming the challenge of the Netherlands and host Scotland showing itself to be a class above the UAE.
The later match at the Grange had promised so much with the Netherlands being on top for significant periods of the game. But this is an experienced, passionate and highly skilled Afghanistan team that knows how to win and, once they regained the initiative towards the end of the first innings, they held on to it with a jealous intensity not letting the Dutch back in.
In the end, they won by 32 runs with Netherlands unable to chase down their formidable total of 162. But for a long time as Afghanistan batted, that score looked to be way beyond Asghar Stanikzai and his team.
Mudassar Bukhari had bowled very well up front for the Netherlands, making the ball duck in and nip away off the seam. He clean bowled Mohammad Shahzad and then had Asghar trapped lbw in an impressive opening spell that put the Dutch noses in front.
And when Roelof van der Merwe took the wicket of Nawroz Mangal, Afghanistan were struggling a little bit on 39-3. Samiullah Shenwari and Mohammad Nabi then consolidated, putting on 57 for the fourth wicket before Van der Merwe struck again, dismissing Nabi for 33 and stunting the Afhgans’ progress.
But some late-order hitting from Sami and Najibullah Zadran put real pressure on the Netherlands and swung the momentum of the entire game back in their favour. Najib’s 33 off 11 balls was particularly impressive as Afghanistan scored 68 runs off the final five overs to make sure they posted that competitive total.
In response, Netherlands started solidly with the top five batsmen all getting starts but, crucially, no one went on to make a big score. In the end, they slumped from 92-3 to 118-9 and 130 all out as Afghanistan’s confidence grew by degrees through the day.
Captain Asghar said: “When we were batting we knew the ball would seam around a bit early on so we didn’t worry too much about scoring at that stage. Our focus was always the last eight overs – we thought that if we could keep wickets in hand until then, we would be able to score heavily.
“Our plan is always to pace the innings well and thankfully that’s how it worked out. We were able to attack in the last five overs or so. And then having scored 162 we were very confident it would be enough. We put a lot of faith in our bowlers. Having Hamid (Hassan) back in the team and fit again is huge for us.
“We are ready for tomorrow again and we will try our best against the UAE. The win gives us some momentum and also provides confidence for the team as we move forward now.”
Left-arm spinner and man of the match Sharafuddin Ashraf added: “I am so happy with this performance. The whole team, especially the senior players, have given me a lot of confidence and they really motivate me towards this success. The surface was good to bowl on. We knew it would take a bit of spin so I really concentrated on my line and length and it paid off.”
Earlier, local favourite George Munsey gave the home crowd something to cheer about, smashing 62 off just 36 balls as Scotland demolished UAE to open its campaign with an emphatic victory. Set a paltry target of 110 to win on a good Grange wicket, Munsey and Kyle Coetzer went about their job with relish, putting on 96 for the first wicket.
Munsey saw the job through to the end playing an array of shots, most notably a powerful and lucrative reverse sweep that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a hockey pitch, which tellingly is his winter sport of choice. In the end, Scotland won by nine wickets with 10 overs to spare and man of the match Munsey was pleased with the result.
“I couldn’t be happier – this is a special place to come and play cricket,” said Munsey, who plays his club cricket at this ground.
“The surface here is always really good and reliable – great to come here and play. And we have all been working hard so it’s pleasing to get off to a good start in this event. We try to go out and do the same thing every time. Kyle and I enjoy batting together so we always look to have fun when we’re out there and so far it’s working well.”
Thurs, 9 July
At the Grange: UAE 109, 18.1 overs (Mohammad Naveed 19 not out; Michael Leask 3-20, Mark Watt 3-28)
Scotland 110-1, 10 overs (George Munsey 62 not out, Kyle Coetzer 39)
Scotland won by nine wickets
At the Grange:
Afghanistan 162-7, 20 overs (Samiullah Shenwari 44, Mohammad Nabi 33, Najibullah Zadran 33; Ahsan Malik 3-36, Mudassar Bukhari 2-25)
Netherlands 130, 19.4 overs (Ben Cooper 36; Dawlat Zadran 3-17, Sharafuddin Ashraf 3-27)
Afghanistan won by 32 runs
Fri, 10 July – Ireland v Namibia, Stormont, Belfast (1000-1310); Canada v Kenya, Myreside, Edinburgh (1000-1310); Nepal v USA, Stormont, Belfast (1415-1725); UAE v Afghanistan, The Grange, Edinburgh 1415-1725