SHARJAH: Afghanistan appeared unperturbed by their uncertain future in international cricket as Mohammad Nabi’s men dished out a 130-run shellacking to Scotland in Group 2 at the Twenty20 World Cup on Monday.
None of the recent upheavals seemed to affect Afghanistan as their muscular top order fired them to an imposing 190-4 in their opening Super 12 stage match at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Spin duo Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who grabbed career-best figures of 5-20, and Rashid Khan (4-9) then combined to demolish Scotland for 60 in 10.2 overs to maintain Afghanistan’s 100 percent victory record against them in this format.
“This was our plan, to bat first and put a big score,” Nabi said after their biggest Twenty20 victory in terms of runs. “Everyone knows Rashid and Mujeeb are among the best in the world. It’s a really nice team and hopefully we’ll keep winning.”
The Afghan openers vindicated Nabi’s decision to bat first after winning the toss. Hazratullah Zazai, who made 44, and Mohammad Shahzad (22) got them off to a flier with a 54-run stand and Afghanistan’s batters never took their foot off the pedal after that.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz blasted four sixes in his 46 but, like Hazratullah, fell short of his half-century.
Najibullah Zadran could not be denied his fifty though and the left-hander smashed 59 from just 34 deliveries before falling to the final delivery of the innings.
Afghanistan’s batters smashed a combined 11 sixes, several landing on the roof of the stadium, much to the delight of the smattering of Afghan fans in the stands.
“We have been playing some good cricket to get here, but sometimes things don’t go to plan,” Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer said after the thumping. “We fought hard in the field. It’s just a level check to see where our standards are. We’ll be better for it in the next game.”
Afghanistan’s win was their biggest in the game’s shortest format and it was set up by Mujeeb. The spinner remained the hero with his three wickets in one over, including two in successive deliveries, to decimate Scotland’s top and middle order.
Scotland, who made the Super 12s of this event for the first time after they won all three matches in the qualifiers, could never recover after Calum MacLeod, Richie Berrington and Matthew Cross fell without scoring, and the team crashed to their lowest T20 total.
The win puts Afghanistan at the top of the Group 2 table above Pakistan, who thrashed rivals India by 10 wickets on Sunday.
Hazratullah Zazai b Watt 44
M. Shahzad c Greaves b Sharif 22
Rahmanullah Gurbaz c Coetzer b Davey 46 Najibullah Zadran c Wheal b Sharif 59
Mohammad Nabi not out 11
EXTRAS (LB-5, W-5) 8
TOTAL (for four wkts, 20 overs) 190
FALL OF WKTS: 1-54 (Shahzad, 5.5 ov), 2-82 (Hazratullah, 9.5 ov), 3-169 (Rahmanullah, 18.3 ov), 4-190 (Najibullah, 19.6 ov).
DID NOT BAT: Asghar Afghan, Karim Janat, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Naveen-ul-Haq, Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
BOWLING: Wheal 4-0-42-0 (1w); Leask 1-0-18-0; Sharif 4-0-33-2 (1w); Davey 4-0-41-1 (1w); Watt
4-0-23-1 (2w); Greaves 3-0-30-0.
H.G. Munsey b Mujeeb 25
K.J. Coetzer b Mujeeb 10
C.S. MacLeod lbw b Mujeeb 0
R.D. Berrington lbw b Mujeeb 0
M.H. Cross c Shahzad b Naveen 0
M.A. Leask lbw b Rashid 0
C.N. Greaves lbw b Rashid 12
M.R.J. Watt b Mujeeb 1
J.H. Davey lbw b Rashid 4
Safyaan Sharif not out 3
B.T.J. Wheal b Rashid 0
Extras (lb-2, w-3) 5
Total (all out, 10.2 overs) 60
FALL OF WKTS: 1-28 (Coetzer, 3.2 ov), 2-28 (MacLeod, 3.3 ov), 3-28 (Berrington, 3.6 ov), 4-30 (Cross, 4.3 ov), 5-36 (Munsey, 5.3 ov), 6-39 (Leask, 6.3 ov), 7-45 (Watt, 7.5 ov), 8-53 (Greaves, 8.5 ov), 9-60 (Davey, 10.1 ov), 10-Wheal, 10.2 ov).
BOWLING: Mohammad Nabi
1-0-11-0; Mujeeb Ur Rahman
5-0-20-5; Naveen-ul-Haq 2-0-12-1 (1w); Rashid Khan 2.2-0-9-4; Karim Janat 1-0-6-0 (2w).
Result: Afghanistan won by 130 runs.
UMPIRES: H.D.P.K. Dharmasena (Sri Lanka) and P. Wilson (Australia).
TV UMPIRE: R.A. Kettleborough (England).
MATCH REFEREE: J.J. Crowe (New Zealand).
PLAYER-OF-THE-MATCH: Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Afghanistan).
Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2021