Mohammad Shehzad    Getty Images (File photo)
Mohammad Shehzad Getty Images (File photo)

Afghanistan beat Namibia by an innings and 36 runs in their third match of the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2015-2016/17 on Tuesday. Afghanistan won the four-day game with a day to spare at Greater Noida, which is their second home ground after Dubai. The winner of the Intercontinental Cup will play two Tests against the last-ranked Test side and the winner will earn a Test status. The Afghans who have won and finished as runners up in the previous two editions (2009-10 and 2011-13) have been on a roll with two wins from three matches played so far in this season s tournament. They currently are on the third spot in the points table with 41 points behind the likes of Netherlands (46) and Ireland (60). READ: The rise and rise of Afghanistan cricket

Namibia won the toss and has chosen to bat first before Afghanistan bundled them out for 172 in 62.1 overs. A total of five Namibia batsmen were dismissed for a single digit, while their opener Pikky Ya France top-scored with a 123-ball knock of 45. Afghanistan s most experienced bowler ran over the Namibians with his five-wicket haul in 20.1 overs. The other wickets were picked by Dawalt Zadran, Rahmat Shah and Zahir Khan.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan s opener Mohammad Shahzad, who was a huge entertainment in the recently concluded ICC World T20 2016 once again stepped up to play an impressive knock of 139 from 245 balls. His innings helped Afghanistan take a lead of 162 runs before Namibia bowled them out for 334 in 118.5 overs. Namibia came out to bat again and lasted only for 35.3 overs as the young Zahir ran over the opponents taking his maiden five-wicket haul to ensure a second win for his country in this edition of Intercontinental Cup. Namibia s Ya France was again their pick of the batsman with a 91-ball 40. While he stayed at the crease, his teammates threw away wickets from the other end.

When Dawalt Zadran trapped him leg before wicket in the 34th over, a victory for Afghanistan was not very far away. After his dismissal, Namibia got bowled out in the next two overs, giving Afghanistan crucial 14 points.

The match showcased the immense talent in the 17-year-old Zahir, who was playing only his second First-Class match for Afghanistan. He made his debut in their previous game against Papua New Guinea at Sharjah towards the end of 2015. It was surely a fairytale debut as he went on to bag seven scalps at a fantastic economy of 3.42.

Although Afghanistan knocked out of the World T20 after the group stage, they were the only side to defeat the eventual champions West Indies. The Windies were unstoppable until that game and the way Afghanistan pulled of a close win towards the end won thousands hearts across the cricketing nations. They batted first and managed only 123 in 20 overs. The best was reserved for the second innings when a combined effort from their bowling department managed to stop the likes of Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Carlos Brathwaite and Andre Russell from chasing down that paltry total.

Ireland and Netherlands who are on the top are yet to face Afghanistan in the Intercontinental Cup 2015-2016-17. All the three sides have been in a terrific form, it will be interesting to watch if the Irish and Dutch will continue to dominate or Asghar Stanikzai and Co open the Cup wide open and put themselves forward to challenge the trophy.

Brief scores:

Namibia 172 (Pikky Ya France 46, Nicholaas Scholtz 25; Mohammad Nabi 5 for 25, Zahir Khan 3 for 21) & 126 (Pikky Ya France 40; Gerhard Erasmus 35; Dawlat Zadran 3 for 7, Zahir Khan 5 for 31) lost to Afghanistan 334 (Mohammad Shezad 139, Afsar Zazai 49; Zhivago Groenewald 3 for 84, Gerrie Snyman 4 for 78) by an innings and 36 runs.

(Sakshi Gupta, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a sports fanatic whose mantra in life is do only what you enjoy. Her Twitter handle is @sakshi2929)