Scotland’s winning start to the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup was brought to a chastening end as Afghanistan claimed a 130-run victory in the first match of the Super 12 at Sharjah. Mujeeb Ur Rahman took 5 for 20 and Rashid Khan 4 for 9 as the Scots were dismissed for 60, their lowest-ever total in T20 internationals.
Chasing 191, Scotland never recovered from losing three in five balls in Mujeeb’s second over. When George Munsey became the off-spinner’s fourth victim, bowled for 25, Scotland had lost five for eight: the Afghans’ experience in a country in which they were looking to extend their record 16-match winning streak was telling. With Rashid Khan’s googlies then accounting for four more, three of them LBW, a tough day for the Scots was complete.
Earlier, Najibullah Zadran’s 34-ball 59 had headlined a display of impressive hitting from Afghanistan’s batters. Both Hazratullah Zazai and Mohammad Shahzad had scored half-centuries in their side’s warm-up win over the West Indies, and the two began confidently again, taking 18 from the second over then 16 from the fifth as they moved the score along to 46 without loss. Seizing on anything full or slightly wide, the pair cleared the ropes three times before, with the total on 54, Shahzad holed out to Chris Greaves at deep midwicket. Safyaan Sharif, winning his 150th cap, had the breakthrough, and when Mark Watt out-foxed Zazai with a beauty in the ninth, a leg-stump yorker which the batter could only deflect into his stumps, Afghanistan had been pegged back to 82 for 2.
But with Rahmanullah Gurbaz taking advantage of the shorter legside boundary to send two more into the stands, the run-rate quickly accelerated into the final phase of the innings. The Afghan number three hit two more sixes in a 37-ball 46, and although he mistimed another attempted hit to Kyle Coetzer at mid-off – a ninth tournament wicket for Josh Davey – Zadran completed his fifty to see Afghanistan to 190 for 4, the highest first-innings total of the Super 12 so far.
Scotland Head Coach Shane Burger was disappointed with his side’s performance but believes they will have learned lessons from playing against such strong opposition.
“We were really not in the contest this evening,” admitted Burger. “There were times that we did ok but unfortunately we were just lost those crucial moments tonight. It’s a game of small margins and there’s a lot that didn’t go our way this evening. But to be fair we were completely outplayed and credit to them for putting us under huge pressure.
“We’ll learn a lot from this. We know that we’re better than what we showed this evening. The game of T20 cricket that can change very quickly as we saw this evening and we’ve got to learn in the future to be able to handle those moments a lot better. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but we’ll swallow it and move on and make sure we bring out better performances in the future.”
Scotland return to action on Wednesday when they face fellow Associates Namibia starting at 3pm UK time