Afghans secure thrilling first win
Late order heroics hand Afghanistan victory after a middle order collapse against Scotland
26 February 2015, 08:22 PM AEST
Afghanistan have won their first ever cricket World Cup match with a nailbiting one-wicket victory over Scotland in Dunedin.
The match went right to the wire, with Samiullah Shenwari coming agonisingly close to steering Afghanistan home before he was dismissed for 96 late in the 47th over.
Josh Davey took the tricky catch on the deep midwicket boundary off Majid Haq, leaving Afghanistan needing 19 off 19 balls with one wicket in hand to chase down Scotland's modest total of 210.
But No.11 Shahpoor Zadran saw Afghanistan home with three balls to spare, picking off a low full toss on leg stump to win the match with a boundary.
Shahpoor Zadran celebrates hitting the winning runs // Getty Images
Although disappointed at missing his maiden ODI century, Shenwari was still pleased with his career-best 96, 14 runs more than his previous best.
"There was big pressure, because we lost five wickets early," he said afterwards.
"But I did my job, and I'm very happy."
Shenwari began the 47th over in spectacular fashion, belting three sixes before getting out with the next ball.
"That was very foolish, but I was trying to get more sixes, so we could chase easily."
Shahpoor hugs a teammate after the victory // Getty Images
Afghanistan's run chase had started solidly with Javed Ahmadi and Nawroz Mangal putting on 42 for the first wicket.
But once Mangal was gone, bowled by Alasdair Evans for seven halfway through the eighth over, Afghanistan struggled.
Ahmadi went for 51 off 51 balls from the first ball of the 19th over, then Afghanistan lost 4-12 in 33 balls to sit precariously on 7-97 in the 24th over.
But Shenwari came to the rescue, patiently building his innings yet still hitting seven fours and five sixes in his 147-ball stay at the crease.
Shahpoor Zadran celebrates the win // Getty Images
Earlier, a 62-run ninth wicket stand spared some Scottish blushes after Afghanistan's pace attack made the most of fresh-looking conditions, whistling through the openers in quick time to leave Scotland 3-40 early in the 12th over.
Paceman Zadran was again the main destroyer, picking up 4-38 from his 10 overs, including openers Calum MacLeod for a duck and Kyle Coetzer (25).
Scotland looked in trouble on 8-144 at the end of the 37th over. But a stubborn 62-run stand from Evans and Haq helped Scotland edge over 200 runs for the first time in a World Cup.
Captain Preston Mommsen said the loss was a tough one to swallow.
"We had them seven down pretty early on, so we're very disappointed we couldn't finish them off," he said.
Afghanistan: Mohammad Nabi (c), Javed Ahmadi, Nawroz Mangal, Asghar Stanikzai, Samiullah Shenwari, Najibullah Zadran, Afsar Zazai, Gulbadin Naib, Dawlat Zadran, Hamid Hassan, Shapoor Zadran.
Scotland: Preston Mommsen (c), Calum MacLeod, Kyle Coetzer, Hamish Gardiner, Matt Machan, Richie Berrington, Matthew Cross, Josh Davey, Majid Haq, Alasdair Evans, Iain Wardlaw.