Afghanistan’s Mujeeb-Ur-Rahman (third right) celebrates after taking the wicket of Scotland’s Mark Watt during their T20 World Cup match in Sharjah on Monday. Associated Press
Mohammad Abdullah, Gulf Today
Spinners Mujeeb-Ur-Rahman and Rashid Khan wreaked havoc as Afghanistan trampled a hapless Scotland by 130 runs in their opening T20 World Cup match in Sharjah on Monday.
The spin duo shared nine wickets between them as Afghanistan skittled out Scotland for a paltry 60 runs after posting a huge total of 190/4.
Mujeeb and Rashid, who are the indispensable cogs in the wheels of famous spin trio of Afghanistan, bowled captivating spells to rip through Scotland’s fragile batting line-up.
In reply to Afghanistan’s 190, Scotland got off to a decent start as the opening duo of George Munsey and Kyle Coetzer added 28 quick runs for the first wicket.
Mujeeb was brought into the attack in the fourth over and the young spinner triggered the in-famous collapse with the dismissal of Coetzer.
He rattled the stumps of Scotland captain to break the dangerous-looking partnership. Coetzer’s dismissal opened the floodgates for Afghan bowlers as they lacerated Scotland’s batters in such a way that would take long to heal.
Mujeeb trapped Calum MacLeod in front of stumps for a golden duck before catching Richie Berrington plumb as Scotland lost three wickets with in the space of four balls to be reduced to 28/3 from 28/0.
Matthew Cross was caught by Mohammad Shahzad behind the stumps off Naveen-ul-Haq after Scots had added just two runs to their total. Mujeeb, in his next over, got rid of Munsey while Rashid also sprang into action quickly to join the party.
Rashid trapped Michael Leask for his first wicket and before Mujeeb uprooted the stumps of Mark Watt to complete his five-wicket haul.
Rashid was not going to remain far behind in the race, he sent back Greaves and Josh Davey in quick successions before dislodging the bails of Brad Wheal as Afghanistan completed the rout.
Earlier, Afghanistan batsmen dominated a toothless Scotland attack as all of them chipped with useful contributions.
Hazratullah Zazai and Mohammad Shahzad gave them a blistering start with a fifty-run partnership for the first wicket. They toyed with the Scotland bowling and collected runs from all corners of the ground. The duo brought up the fifty-run stand in just 5.5 overs.
Safyaan Sharif gave Scotland first breakthrough by breaking the opening stand. He got Shahzad caught by Greaves as Afghanistan lost their first wicket with 55 runs on the board.
Zazai, who rose to fame after hitting six sixes in Afghanistan Premier League (APL) in Sharjah, added another 30 runs for the second wicket with Rahmanullah Gurbaz before holing out to Coetzer off Davey. Zazai had played his role before leaving the pitch. He gave the start, which was expected of him.
His dismissal must have left the Scots giggling, who were oblivious of the fact that the worst was yet to come. The pair of Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Najibullah Zadran tore apart the Scotland attack as they shared a 87-run stand for the third wicket in just in eight overs.
They plundered Scotland’s bowlers on their will and sent everything out of the boundary ropes that was hurled at them.
Zardan was more brutal of the two as he belted a 34-ball 59 with the help of fie hits to the rope and three over the fence while Gurbaz smashed four sixes and just one boundary during his stint at the wicket.
Zardan reached his fifty with a single in just 30 deliveries as Afghanistan collected 70 runs from seven overs in the middle of the innings to set the tempo for a big total.
All the Afghanistan’s batsmen maintained a strike rate of above 140 except Gurbaz but Zardan on the other hand made up for him by scoring at a rate of 170 plus, Nabi played a 4-ball 11 runs cameo to propel the score past 190.
Sahriff was the most successful bowler as he picked up two wickets conceding just 33 runs in his four overs. Even Chris Greaves, who took four wickets in four deliveries against Ireland in the first round, failed to leave any impact and went wicketless.
With the victory, India boosted their hopes of advancing to semi-finals. They have moved to the third spot and taken over Afghanistan in run rate.
A ruthless New Zealand produced a scintillating performance to trample over the ambitions of India and Afghanistan both with a convincing victory to seal their fate in the World Cup.
After playing his last knock in international cricket, Asghar Afghan on Sunday became emotional and said that it's tough for him to hang his boots but he now wants to give chance to youngsters in the ongoing Men's T20 World Cup.
"If India comes in the final, then it would be very good for the International Cricket Council, fans around the world and for world cricket," he said. "That will bring the two countries closer. For me, it should be a win for love and defeat for hate."
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