Scotland and Ireland maintained their perfect records after wins in Round 2 of the World Cup Qualifier, whilst the West Indies won their first game while a classic encounter played out between Zimbabwe and Afghanistan.
Zimbabwe 196 ao (43 overs): Taylor 89, Raza 60; Rashid 3-38, Mujeeb 3-49
Afghanistan 194ao (49.3 overs): Shah 69, Nabi 51; Muzarabani 4-47, Raza 3-40
Zimbabwe win by 2 runs
Zimbabwe snatched victory from the jaws of defeat today as they beat a disappointing Afghanistan team by just 2 runs. Zimbabwe, however, did not get off to the best start as opener Cephas Zhewao was removed for a golden duck by Dawlat Zadran. Solomon Mire couldn’t continue his form from Round 1 as he was dismissed soon after for 4, which left Graeme Cremer’s side struggling at 6-2. Hamilton Masakadza came and went soon after for 3 to take his competition run tally to just 20. He was bowled by the again impressive Mujeeb, who picked up 3 wickets and a run-out. Brendan Taylor (89) steadied the ship but Craig Ervine (13) couldn’t support him for long. Taylor was joined by Zimbabwe’s Mr. Dependable, Sikandar Raza (60), who on the back of his 1st Round hundred, shared a 98 run partnership with Taylor. Taylor was bowled by Dawlat, and after Raza was dismissed by Rashid Khan the wheels came off for Zimbabwe. Only Cremer offered some resistance as he finished on 19*. The last 5 Zimbabwean wickets fell for only 9 runs, including ducks for: Tendai Chatara, Brian Vitori, and Blessing Muzarabani.
Ihsanullah was removed for one by Vitori, but fellow opener Mohammad Shahzad (24) and number 3 Rahmat Shah (69) gave the newfound Test nation a solid platform onto which they could build. Nasir Jamal added 8 before getting out, which bought Mohammad Nabi into the action. Nabi scored a a resolute 51, which took Afghanistan to 156 before Shah departed, one of Muzarabani’s 4 wickets. Afghanistan were within touching distance of a much needed victory after their humbling defeat by Scotland. There best hope of a comfortable win, Nabi, was stumped off of Raza’s bowling in an over that would shift the momentum of the game. Raza started with Nabi’s stumping, then two balls later had Sharafuddin Ashraf caught by Masakadza, and to finish the over he bowled Rashid Khan. This over proved to be the turning point for Afghanistan Muzarabani removed Najibullah Zadran and Mujeeb within four runs of each other. This left Dawlat and Shapoor Zadran left to knock off the required runs. They came together with 19 runs needed to win. The Zimbabwean duo of Chatara and Vitori bowled economically and took it to the last over, where, we all know, anything is possible. Vitori started with a dot and then Dawlat scored a single, only for Shapoor to knick it to the keeper Taylor to leave the Afghan’s 2-runs short in what should’ve been a comfortable chase.
The Afghans have now lost both of their matches, and need to beat Nepal and Hong Kong, who they play next, to secure a Super Sixes berth. Zimbabwe have a rest for Round 3.
Hong Kong 91 ao (38.2 overs): Nizakat Khan 26; Sole 4-15, Evans 3-19
Scotland 92-6 (23.3 overs): Coetzer 41*; Ehsan Khan 3-29, Ehsan Nawaz 2-24
Scotland win by 4 wickets
Hong Kong collapsed from 46-0 to 91 all out to gift Scotland what should’ve been a straightforward chase. Tom Sole ripped through the Hong Kong middle order, at one point having figures of 3-3-0-3. After openers Nizakat Khan (26) and Aizaz Khan (17) were removed by Mark Watt and Ali Evans respectively, the Hong Kong line up disintegrated with every other batsman, bar Ehsan Khan (16*), scoring single figures.
Matthew Cross (2) and Kyle Coetzer (41*) opened for the Scots, and when Cross and Calum MacLeod were dismissed by Ehsan Nawaz, things started to look less secure for Scotland. Only Coetzer looked comfortable, and after Berrington fell for 1 the momentum was very much with Hong Kong. A quick fire 22 from George Munsey helped settle any nerves that the Scots held. Munsey was trapped LBW by Ehsan Khan with the score on 74; 5 each for Craig Wallace and Watt, and 2 from Sharif took the Scots home to make it two wins from two, giving them a good platform going into games against Nepal, Zimbabwe, and hopefully for them the Super Sixes.
Scotland play Nepal in Round 3, while Hong Kong will be looking to take advantage of a despondent Afghanistan side in their next fixture.
West Indies 357-4 (50 overs): Hetmyer 127, Gayle 123; Imran Haider 1-62
UAE 297-6 (50 overs): Rameez Shahzad 112*, Shaiman Anwar 64; Holder 5-53
West Indies win by 60 runs
21-year-old Shimron Hetmyer stole the show in the West Indies’ first Qualifying game. The youngster scored 127 off 93 balls to score his first ODI ton. He also out scored Chris Gayle, who went equally large, scoring 123 off 91 balls. Between Hetmyer and Gayle, they bludgeoned 36 boundaries, ensuring that only one UAE bowler, 1st round hero Mohammad Naveed, went at less than 6 an over. Even Lewis contributed 31, Shai Hope retired hurt on 36, and captain Jason Holder finished with a strike rate of 200, with 12 runs off 6 balls.
Kemar Roach had opener and captain Rohan Mustafa caught by Hetmyer for 8 in the fourth over, and then it became the Holder show. Holder got rid of the UAE numbers: 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7, but couldn’t get past Rameez Shahzad, who finished unbeaten on 112. Shahzad’s knock was one of two hundred’s scored by Associate players against Full Members in today’s Qualifying round, which is testament to the standard of cricket being played at Associate level. This also begs the question as to why the ICC grant them so little cricket and have decided to make the World Cup consist of only 10 teams. To us at The Pavilion, this seems absurd and grossly unfair. This being said, Shahzad played a wonderful innings against a Test match bowling attack. Between them, the West Indian bowlers have played a total of 147 Test matches, and taken 243 wickets. Surely after this performance it is clear that Associate nations can compete with some Test nations. Unfortunately we will likely never know as the ICC seems hell bent on delaying the development of world cricket to a damagingly slow rate. Shahzad was supported by 38-year-old Shaiman Anwar (64) but the West Indian total was too daunting for the UAE, as they finished 60 runs short in what was a valiant and well thought out effort.
The West Indies face Papua New Guinea in the next round. The UAE go up against the Netherlands, who sat out of Round 2.
Papua New Guinea 235 ao (50 over): Ura 151; McBrine 3-38, Rankin 2-41
Ireland 237-6 (49.1 overs): Porterfield 111, Joyce 53; Vala 2-39, Nao 1-34
Ireland win by 4 wickets
Ton Ura cemented his place in Papua New Guinean cricketing folklore today, as he scored 151 of his side’s 235 runs in an epic innings, that showed: defiance, grit, and a supreme talent. Only three other batsmen made it into double figures. Andy McBrine did most of the damage, curtailing the PNG middle order’s ambitions. Kevin O’Brien and Boyd Rankin chipped in with two wickets apiece, Paul Stirling with one, and PNG didn’t help themselves by having two batsmen run out.
William Porterfield (111) opened for the Irish and went about making the target look a lot smaller than it actually was. He led by example and was ably supported by the experience of Ed Joyce (53). Porterfield, Joyce, Kevin (12) and Niall O’Brien (1) all fell in quick succession Gary Dockrell (8*) and Gary Wilson (12*) saw the Irish home to make it two wins out of two.
Ireland will sit out Round 3. Papua New Guinea come up against the West Indies.
ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 – Tables
Round 3 Fixtures, Thursday 8 March
Group A: Netherlands v UAE, West Indies v PNG
Group B: Scotland v Nepal, Afghanistan v Hong Kong