Afghanistan win thriller at the Grange
Scotland lost their second fixture in the ICC World T20 Qualifier by 37 runs to Afghanistan, following their defeat to the Netherlands on Saturday. [Scorecard]
Some extraordinary hitting from Shahzad Mohammad (75), Mohammad Nabi (33), Najibullah Zadran (37) and captain Asghar Stanikzai (34) took their team to 210-5, after the skipper won the toss and decided to bat.
Scotland were all out for 173, Nabi (3-25) and Hammid Hassan (3-29) the chief destroyers.
Preston Mommsen’s 44 from 20 balls (three fours and four sixes) and Matt Cross’ 37, being the only real contributions.
With the Saltires’ bowling going to all parts of the ground (and out), Michael Leask’s 2-24 was exceptional in the any circumstances, as he impressed with the ball yet again.
Mohammad’s sensational 75 from 36 balls (five fours and seven sixes), taking 24 runs from a Mark Watt’s first over, dealing in maximums only, won him Man of the Match.
Najib Zadran 37 and Mohammad Nabi 33, 66-run partnership in five overs, including one four and six maximums, continued the aggressive onslaught in Edinburgh in front of a large away support that lit up the Grange.
“In the end, too many,” said captain Preston Mommsen of the 211 target.
“They took advantage of the short boundaries and we couldn’t restrict them.”
Leask opened the bowling in a tactical move from the skipper that paid off immediately when Nawroz Mangal was trapped lbw first ball for a duck. However, that is as good as it would get for Scotland.
From then on, the Mohammad lit the blue-touch paper, followed in similar vain by the swashbuckling middle order batting from his team.
The Afghanistan wicketkeeper’s sensational knock was finally over when Leask took an excellent pressure-cooker of a catch on the long off boundary off Con de Lange.
Games turn on such moments and the momentum shifted two balls later when some smart glove-work by Matt Cross from Coetzer’s throw saw Stanikzai run out.
112-1 became 113-3 and Leask was at it again when he had Shinwari (19) caught by Evans, but not after he had hit two sixes into orbit as the score sky-rocketed.
This brought Zadran and Nabi together. Briefly, Afghanistan’s run rate slowed as two new batsmen picked off singles to keep the scoreboard ticking - then the carnage ensued.
Zadran was run out by some smart thinking by Safyaan Sharif, who pulled a stump out of the ground after his partner’s powerful drive knocked the non-striker’s middle-pin out.
The Afghan batsmen continued to dispatch the Scots’ bowlers to all parts of the ground. A huge Shinwari six into the trees at the Nursery End off Leask; Zadran off Sharif into Edinburgh Accies and Shafaq over long on and into the tennis courts to finish the innings, were stunning.
The only partnerships of note came between Cross and Richie Berrington who put on 50 and the Mommsen and Leask, 51 runs.
The top-order batsmen got starts, but did not convert, leaving the home team with too big a task.
Grant Bradburn admitted that Wesley Barresi and Mohammad “played extremely well” and that chasing 200 plus is difficult, however, he also felt that his team’s fielding, ultimately, cost them.
“It was a tough weekend, said Bradburn.
“We struck two sides at the top of their game and there were small moments in the games which we lost and therefore, lost the game because of two very good performances from our opposition.
“We were chasing slightly too many in both games…and unusually our fielding hasn’t been at its peak and we’ve spilled catches that have cost us.”