Afghanistan Win First T20 Fixture
On a rather pleasant evening in Sharjah, Scotland took on Afghanistan in the first T20 fixture of their series in the UAE under the lights in front of a large crowd.
It was a proud day for Matt Machan, Neil Carter and David Murphy who made their full Scotland debuts and received their caps before the match.
On arrival there were a few concerned faces as the lights had not yet been turned on, but eventually a big crowd were treated to an entertaining contest between two of the top associates.
Scotland lost the toss and were asked to field by an Afghanistan outfit welcoming back the fit again Hammid Hassan.
Scotland made a good start with Iain Wardlaw claiming the first wicket of the evening; surprising Mangal with a short delivery that took the top edge and looped up to Machan at square leg.
Neil Carter made sure things got even better for Scotland when Sadiq came down the wicket looking for the big shot, only to hit the ball high into the night’s sky and Calum MacLeod got into position to take the catch.
Scotland looked to have the upper hand and had Afghaistan in trouble at 5 for 2; however, the big partnership then came for Afghanistan when Mohammad Shahzad and Asghar Stanikzai met in the middle. The pair hit some impressive powerful shots all around the ground – they did offer a couple of tough chances, which Scotland weren’t able to capitalise on.
Shahzad played some brilliant shots in his innings, notably one massive six off over square leg and another over mid-off, but eventually he perished, shortly after brining up a swashbuckling 50, A couple of lusty blows from Shinwari and Mohammed Nabi helped the Afghani’s finish their innings on 132.
Scotland’s reply didn’t get off to the best of starts, a diving MacLeod was just short of his ground, as a direct hit from Hamza Hotak, knocked down the stumps sending the crowd into raptures.
Carter then made his first appearance for Scotland in the middle, but the occasion didn’t last long as he edged a Karim Sadiq delivery to Samiullah Shenwari at fly slip.
Coetzer found the boundary twice as he and Matt Machan looked to build a partnership but when he nicked a Mohammed Nabi delivery behind, Scotland found themselves on 39/4 in the 8th over and were on the back foot. The Afghanistan tails were up and with the big crowd spurring them on and the conditions in their favour, they looked to finish Scotland off quickly.
Mommsen and Machan dug deep and put on 33 runs before Mommsen went for the slog sweep; although he got a good connection, there was a little bit too much elevation and Nawroz Mangal took a good catch in the deep.
Machan worked hard in the middle and mixed effortless cover drives, and deft sweep shots despite the late evening dew, to give Scotland some hope.
Iqbal came in to try and get Scotland close to the total, but when he was bowled by a full toss from Aftab Alam the game was ended as a contest.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be Scotland’s night as the Afghan bowlers bowled quick and flat deliveries to take the game away from Scotland, who ended up 27 runs short of the target.
Scotland won’t be too down beat and had a couple of chances gone their way things might have been different, but they will be looking to bounce back against the same opposition tomorrow evening.