Afghanistan stretched its 5-0 record against Scotland in the game’s shortest version to half a dozen, clinching the Group B qualifying match of the ICC World Twenty20 championship at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium here on Tuesday night.
After being well on its way at 84 for one, Scotland stumbled. The target of 171 set by Afghanistan proved beyond its batting prowess, the chase by the Scots running out of steam.
The Scots seemed well and truly launched, openers George Munsey (41, 9x4) and Kyle Coetzer (40, 4x4, 1x6) providing the perfect platform to overhaul the rival total. The introduction of leg spin from both ends through Rashid Khan and Samiullah Shenwari slammed the brakes on Scotland’s ambitions.
At first it halted Munsey and Coetzer in their tracks, the left-hander trapped leg before and the latter caught in the deep. Amir Hamza returned to ply his slow left-arm fare and Mohammad Nabi sustained the stranglehold with his off-breaks. Sure enough, the boundaries came down to a trickle, the Scots taking recourse to singles.
Earlier, Scotland’s spin ‘start-up’ through southpaw Mark Watt didn’t really pay off, the spoils landed instead through Alistair Evans’ medium-fast assault. Afghanistan’s aggressive approach wasn’t curbed though, as Asghar Stanikzai heaved Josh Davey over the mid-wicket hoardings soon after, its scoring rate crossing six in the first quarter itself.
Scotland’s return to spin from Watt and Matt Machan proved an expensive experiment, Mohammad Shahzad carting the offie over the ropes off successive deliveries. Halfway through, Afghanistan reached 79 for the lone loss of Noor Ali, the Scots quite unequal to the task of containing the batsmen, indulging themselves with reverse sweeps and Dilscoops.
Shahzad’s 39-ball, stroke-filled 61 (5x4, 2x6), his 10th half- century so far and the highest tally by a player from an associate nation, ended when Calum McLeod held his lofted straight drive off Watt.
Unbeaten at the end was skipper Stanikzai on 55.
The scores: Afghanistan 170 for five (Mohammad Shahzad 61, Asghar Stanikzai 55 not out) beat Scotland 156 for five (Kyle Coetzer 40, George Munsey 41, Matt Machan 36; Rashid Khan two for 28).