Afghanistan win thriller in Dunedin
Scotland 210 (50 ov), Machan 31, Haq 31, Evans 28, lost to Afghanistan 211/9 (49.3 ov) Shenwari 96, Ahmadi 51, Berrington 4/40, by 1 wicket [Scorecard]
Mohammed Nabi won the toss and elected to bowl first under blue skies. Josh Davey collected his 50th cap for Scotland at the start of the game, presented by Preston Mommsen.
Scotland were quickly facing an uphill struggle as early wickets tumbled. Calum MacLeod was the first wicket to fall when he stuck a Dawlat Zadran delivery straight to Najibullah Zadran at gully.
Hamish Gardiner was dismissed shortly afterwards, following two unsuccessful LBW appeals, the third in as many balls, was adjudged to be hitting the stumps from Hassan, and Scotland were 38/2 in the 11th over.
The Scots showed glimpses of promise, with Kyle Coetzer finding the boundary on five occasions, scoring 25, but he was back in the pavilion two balls after Gardiner’s wicket.
Matt Machan and Preston Mommsen put on a partnership worth 53. Just as Scotland looked to be building a platform they then seemed to lose quick wickets.
Machan had his off-stump disturbed after attempting to go big for 31. Mommsen was then dismissed two deliveries later, edging behind for 23, and the Scots were in the mire with 95 on the board and 5 wickets down.
The wickets kept coming for Afghanistan. Matthew Cross and Josh Davey were both dismissed by Sharpoor Zadran, much to the delight of a jubilant Afghani following.
Majid Haq and Alasdair Evans were cautious, as they needed to be, after Berrington went for 25, in their approach.
With the score on 144/8 the pair pushed the ball around taking any runs on offer. It was a workman-like 62 run partnership, as Scotland passed their previous best World Cup score of 186, to ensure they would finish their innings on 210, when Evans was out from the last ball of the innings.
Scotland knew that if they could claim early wickets they would be in with a chance. The introduction of Evans into the bowling attack proved fruitful as he claimed two wickets in his first over.
Ahmadi was going hard at the bowling, and got his rewards with a half century, as Afghanistan seemed to be taking control with the score on 82/2.
Then the momentum swung in Scotland’s direction, as Afghanistan crashed to 97/7, when Richie Berrington produced an inspired spell of bowling.
Scotland’s charge was met by resistance from Shenwari. The attacking batsman struck three consecutive sixes as he closed in on a century, only to be caught on the boundary trying to clear the rope once more.
It came down to Hassan and Shapoor Zadran to be the heros for Afghanistan as they took the match into the final over with only 5 runs required, while Scotland needed 1 wicket.
The Scotland players will think ‘what might have been’ had Shenwari not been dropped early in his innings in the slips, and a number of run out chances were spurned.
The match winning runs came as Shapoor flicked the ball off his legs down to the fine-leg boundary to spark the celebrations for Afghanistan.