Mohammad Shahzad set the match up for Afghanistan with a 39-ball 61 in the first innings © Getty Images
Mohammad Shahzad set the match up for Afghanistan with a 39-ball 61 in the first innings © Getty Images

Afghanistan have cruised to a dominating 14-run win against Scotland in the ICC World T20 2016, 2nd qualifier at Nagpur. Scotland had done well in the first nine overs or so, but started falling apart after the initial wicket of opener Kyle Coetzer. Coetzer was dismissed for a 27-ball 40 by Samiullah Shenwari in the 9th over. In the very next over, Rashid Khan dismissed George Munsey for a 29-ball 41. The batsmen did well against fast bowlers, but were ordinary against spin bowlers. They were unable to get any flow to their innings when the spinners came on. Live Scorecard: Afghanistan vs Scotland, ICC World T20 2016, group B match at Nagpur

Rashid, Shenwari, Mohammad Nabi and Amir Hamza, all played their roles in strangling the life out of Scotland after the halfway mark in the game. The Scotland batsmen fell in a heap after the initial onslaught. After the fall of the openers, no batsman showed the aptitude to tackle the spin bowlers on a pitch offering assistance. LIVE CRICKET BLOG: Afghanistan vs Scotland, ICC World T20 2016, group B match at Nagpur

Calum MacLeod was the third wicket to fall, going for two runs to his name, getting run out. Matt Machan tried to hang in there with the hope to accelerate later but the acceleration never transpired.  Richard Berrington was dismissed for a 10-ball eight by Rashid, stumped by Mohammad Shahzad.

Machan was joined in his late struggle by skipper Preston Mommsen, who also seemed to delay the acceleration too much. They kept nudging away the singles, but the bowlers managed to dry up the flow of boundaries. Finally, after a painful wait, Machan smashed a six off Dawlat Zadran in the 18th over. From the last two overs, Scotland required 27 runs.

Skipper Stanikzai then turned to the experience of Nabi, and the offie did not disappoint. He bowled with typical precision and did not provide any blatant boundary opportunities. The pressure took its toll on batsman Machan, who perished for a valiant 31-ball 36. He conceded just six runs, leaving Scotland a very improbable 21 to score off the final over.

Earlier, Afghanistan reached a formidable total of 170 for 5 in their 20 overs. Mohammad Shahzad was the mastermind of the innings with a crushing 39-ball 61. Things started well for Afghanistan, with both openers — Shahzad and Noor Ali Zadran — taking the attack to the bowlers. However, Alasdair Evans managed to bowl smartly enough to get Noor dismissed. For a while, Shahzad and Asghar Stanikzai looked to build a partnership sedately. In the powerplay period, Afghanistan reached a score of 41 for 1. Shahzad realised the team’s position was ripe for him to play an innings true to his style.

Once again he was largely successful. He played some rather unconventional shots and displayed uncanny flexibility in their manufacture. He raced away to fifty, bringing up the milestone off the 32nd ball. Finally he was dismissed for a 39-ball 61 by Mark Watt. Watt bowled very well throughout the day.

Gulbadin Naib was the next man in and while he is typically a dangerous batsman, was unable to make too much of an impact today. The pressure of scoring at a more rapid rate got to him and he perished for 12 off 11 deliveries to Josh Davey. Stanikzai played the anchor for most part of the innings. However, he played more aggressive shots towards the end of the innings.

Naib’s wicket brought Mohammad Nabi to the crease. Nabi did not last too long either. He was run out for a single in the haste of quick runs towards the death stages of the game. Shafiqullah Shafaq played a brisk knock to add late impetus to the innings. He scored a 5-ball 14.

Apart from Evans and Watt, Safyaan Sharif also bowled very well. He got his yorkers right for most part, and used them in generous quantities to maintain uncertainty in minds of the batsmen. In his four overs he conceded just 29 runs, and even that after Shafaq got two lucky boundaries of his final couple of deliveries.

Brief scores:

Afghanistan 170 for 2 in 20 overs (Mohammad Shahzad 61, Asghar Stanikzai 55; Alasdair Evans 1 for 24) beat Scotland 156 for 2 in 20 overs (George Munsey 41, Kyle Coetzer 40; Rashid Khan 2 for 28).