The 3rd Round of the Cricket World Cup Qualifiers proved just as dismal for Afghanistan as the previous two, while the West Indies survived an early wobble to beat Papua New Guinea, the UAE overcame the Netherlands and Scotland became the first team to qualify for the Super Sixes by beating Nepal.
Hong Kong 241-8 (50 overs): Rath 65, Hayat 31; Mujeeb 3-26, Nabi 3-48
Afghanistan 195-9 (46 overs): Dawlat 40, Nabi 38; Ehsan Khan 4-33, Ahmed 2-37
Hong Kong win by 30 runs (D/L)
Hong Kong recorded a historic victory over a Test nation, as they saw off Afghanistan fairly comfortably in a rain affected game. Mujeeb removed both Hong Kong openers, Nizakat Khan for 28, and Aizaz Khan for 5 to get the Afghans off to a good start. Ehsan Khan (2) was quick to follow the openers back into the hutch as Sharafuddin dismissed him. At 43-3, Anshuman Rath (65) joined Babar Hayat (31) at the crease and played a match winning innings. Him and Hayat shared a 90 run partnership, getting the score up to 93 before Hayat was out caught by Najibullah Zadran off the bowling of Mohammad Nabi. In came keeper Scott McKechnie who faced 49 balls for his resilient 21. McKechnie’s innings supported Rath and the pair kept the score ticking over until the keeper departed with the score on 160. Rath fell next, to the bowling of Mujeeb. This allowed the Hong Kong tail to wag. Between them, numbers: 7, 8, and 9 scored 61 off 60 balls which propelled the Associate nation to 241-8 off of their allotted overs.
The mood in the Hong Kong camp would’ve been buoyant at tea, following Afghanistan’s epic collapse at the hands of Zimbabwe. It took six overs until they had a breakthrough, when Tanwir Afzal had Javed Ahmadi, who was replacing the suspended Shahzad, out LBW for 22. The next wicket, Rahmat Shah (11), fell 30-runs later, and again, Afghanistan lost both of their set batsmen in the same over. This time Ehsan Khan did the damage in the 16th over. He bowled Shah and had the opener Ihsanullah caught by Rath for 20. Samiullah Shenwari came and went, again to the bowling of Khan for just 9, leaving the Afghans struggling on 73-4. For the third time this tournament, Nabi (38) and Zadran (32) steading a slowly sinking Afghan ship. The experienced pair put on 59-runs together until Zadran was LBW for Nadeem Ahmed’s first wicket of the match. Two runs and two overs later, Ahmed had his second, as Sharafuddin (1) was bowled. This sparked another Afghan collapse, as their main hope of maintaining any dignity in Nabi, was run out by Ehsan Nawaz, and Rashid Khan (14) was Khan’s fourth wicket. Mujeeb (1) joined Dawlat in the middle, and the 16-year-old was run-out for 1, which bought Shapoor Zadran and Dawlat together again after their heroic but failed attempt to get the runs against Zimbabwe. Shapoor, probably luckily for Afghanistan, didn’t face a ball, as Dawlat hit his way to 40 off 30 balls until the rain intervened with Afghanistan way behind the required D/L score. With 46 overs gone, play was called to a close and Hong Kong earned their first win of the tournament.
For an Associate nation with less than 1,000 players and only three turf pitches at their disposal to beat Afghanistan is truly something. Hong Kong, ranked 15th in the ICC ODI rankings pulled off one of the greatest shocks in cricketing history, and deservedly so. Given similar opportunities, imagine what countries like Hong Kong, Scotland, UAE, Nepal, and the Netherlands could achieve. The decision to reduce the number of teams in the World Cup to 10 has been proved as ridiculous and grossly unfair on Associate nations, who have proved themselves to be competitive and quality sides. Depth in world cricket has, arguably, never been better, which makes the decision to reduce the size of the World Cup even more shameful. The ICC needs to take a serious look at itself and realise its job is to develop world cricket, not stifle it and make it into an elite club of the wealthy.
In the next round, Hong Kong play against Zimbabwe. Afghanistan face Nepal in a must win game. Defeat could see them being sent home.
Nepal 149 ao (47.4 overs): Khadka 63; Whittingham 3-35, Sharif 2-21
Scotland 153-6 (41.3 overs): Coetzer 88*; Regmi 2-26, Lamichhane 2-31
Scotland win by 4 wickets
Scotland secured their place in the Super Sixes today after a regulation win against Nepal in their third game. The Scottish bowlers again took early wickets, reducing the Nepal side to 39-5 after just 8 overs. Stuart Whittingham did most of the damage, removing three of the top five. The Sussex bowler was supported by Safyaan Sharif and Richie Berrington, but the Scottish attack couldn’t get past Nepal captain, Paras Khadka, whose defiant 63 helped set a respectable total. Some late runs from Basant Regmi (24) helped the cause but 149 was never going to be enough, despite the fragile Scottish middle order.
Scotland started well, reaching 33 before they lost their first wicket. Sandeep Lamichhane, who became the youngest ever Nepalese player to be signed for an IPL franchise this year, dismissed Matthew Cross for 14. Coetzer (88*) and MacLeod got the score up to 71, but MacLeod couldn’t recreate his form against Afghanistan, and was bowled by Regmi. Richie Berrington (1) quickly followed, LBW to Lamichhane for his second wicket. George Munsey (10) batted in a typically aggressive fashion, but him, Wallace (17), and Mark Watt (0) gave some hope to the Nepalese as they were all dismissed, leaving the Scots six wickets down. Coetzer, though, looked assured at the crease and put in another match winning performance, keeping his cool when all around him seemed to be losing it. Coetzer and Sharif (5*) saw Scotland home in the 42nd over.
Scotland don’t play in the 4th Round. Nepal face an Afghanistan team in disarray.
Papua New Guinea 200 (42.4 overs): Vala 57, Ura 37; Brathwaite 5-27, Miller 2-25
West Indies 201-4 (43 overs): Holder 99*, Hope 49*; Nao 1-16, Vanua 1-36
West Indies win by 6 wickets
Tony Ura couldn’t recreate his form from the last round, but he still scored 37 against Test nation West Indies. He, alongside captain Assad Vala (57) shared a 63-run second wicket partnership after Vani Morea was run out by Jason Holder for a duck. After Ura fell to Ashley Nurse, Lega Siaka got a golden duck, facing Carlos Brathwaite, and Sese Bau (9) was bowled by Brathwaite. Mahuru Dai (35) and Norman Vanua (35) were the only scores of note after Vala was caught behind off of Brathwaite’s bowling. Brathwaite finished with figures of 10-2-27-5 which decimated PNG’s hopes.
The West Indian chase didn’t get off to the best of starts, as openers Evin Lewis (8) and Shimron Hetmyer (8) fell within the first three overs. Shai Hope (49*) and Jason Holder (99*) saw the West Indies home though. The pair looked comfortable batting against an Associate attack, and both finished one run short of a milestone. Holder one short of his first ever ODI hundred.
West Indies play Ireland in the next round, while Papua New Guinea have a winnable fixture against the Netherlands to look forward to.
Netherlands 176 ao (46.3 overs): Barresi 37, ten Doeschate 34; Mustafa 5-26
UAE 177-4 (44 overs): Suri 78*, Usman 36*; van Meekeren 1-18, van der Gugten 1-28
UAE win by 6 wickets
The UAE won their second game of the tournament against the Netherland. Rohan Mustafa ripped through the Dutch batting line up, finishing with figures of 9.3-2-26-5 and a run out. Walter Barresi (37) and Ryan ten Doeschate (34) were the only batsmen to score over 30 in a disappointing performance by the Dutch. Scott Edwards (27) and Pieter Seelaar (27) offered some valuable late runs but it was to enough for Peter Borren’s side.
UAE opener Chirag Suri posted an unbeaten 78 that proved too good a platform for his side to squander. Suri and number 6, Mohammad Usman (36*), saw them home comfortably, with only Shaiman Anwar (1) and Rameez Shahzad (9) posting single figure scores. A Dutch attack, including three English County players couldn’t make enough inroads into the UAE line up, which is testament to the strength that they possess.
The UAE sit out the next round, while the Netherlands play against Papua New Guinea.
ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 – Tables
Round 4 Fixtures, Saturday 10 March
Group A: Ireland v West Indies, Netherlands v Papua New Guinea
Group B: Zimbabwe v Hong Kong, Afghanistan v Nepal