Mohammad Shahad scored a match winning half-century © aFP
By R Vishal
Mar 18, 2014
Afghanistan made lightweight of the 153 made by Hong Kong in the ICC World Cup 2014 qualifiers to cruise to a seven wicket win. The chase was given a solid platform by Mohammad Shahzad and was finished off brilliantly by a blitzkrieg cameo by Shafiqullah towards the end.
Chasing a competitive total of 154, the Afghanistan batsmen started off just their counterparts started and lost an early wicket. Najeeb Tarakai held out in the deep for seven to give Hong Kong a dream start.
Afghanistan went about with their business quite nervously in the start. Shehzad survived an easy run out, fluffed by Irfan Ahmed and Aizaz Ahmed spooned a simple chance — the ones you give your toddlers when they first decide to get into cricket.
After those two early lives, Shehzad grew in confidence and played some lovely shots. He was not afraid to go for the long hop and made the sloppy Hong Kong fielding pay. The burly Shehzad went from strength-to-strength and cleared the ropes with ease. He even paid his tribute to MS Dhoni with a brilliantly executed helicopter shot that resulted in a six over long on.
Afghanistan support cast had precious little to do. Infact, Hong Kong’s fielders collectively were the second best players for the Afghanis for the most part but Irfan Ahmed pulled off a stroke of genius in the deep, showing what it takes to pull off a catch to his teammates to with a spectacular effort to give Hong Kong a glimmer of hope.
Shafiqullah, however made those hopes bite the dust with a lightening cameo with a lot of big sixes and before Hong Kong knew what hit them, Afghanistan cruised to victory to put themselves in a very good position to qualify for the main draw.
Hong Kong 153 for 8 (Waqas Barkat 32, Jamie Atkinson 31, Mark Chapman 38; Shapoor Zadran 2 for 27, Mohammad Nabi 2 for 27) lost to Afghanistan 154 for 3 (Mohammad Shahzad 68, Shafiqullah 51*; Tanwir Afzal 1 for 19) by 7 wickets.
Man of the Match: Mohammad Shahzad
ICC World T20 2014 Schedule details
ICC World T20 2014 Points Table and Team Standings
(R Vishal is a journalist and an alumni of the Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)