2016 Asia Cup Qualifiers, Afghanistan v Hong Kong: Afghanistan beat HK by 66 runs to stay alive
Afghanistan kept their hopes of making it to the Asia Cup after defeating Hong Kong by a massive 66 runs. Mohammad Nabi's four-wicket haul helped the Afghans to win in a convincing manner and stay alive in the tournament.
The Afghans came into the match having to win against Hong Kong, after having lost their first game against UAE. Hong Kong had nothing to lose except cause an upset by knocking Afghanistan out of the tournament. Not only did Afghanistan have to win the game, they had to win it with a big enough margin to get a better run rate than UAE.
Hong Kong won the toss and chose to field first. Mohammad Shahzad, who has been poor in the previous two matches, finally seemed like getting off to a good innings as he hit three boundaries and one six.
However, his stay at the crease ended in the fourth over as he picked out Babar Hayat while going for the big shot. Noor Ali Zadran was brilliant in the match against Oman as he scored a fifty. But, the opener could not carry on his form as he struggled to score 9 runs off 17 balls.
Asghar Stanikzai came in and played an attacking innings of 49 off 35 balls. Along with Najibullah Zadran, the Afghan skipper put on a 49-run partnership that helped Afghanistan's quest to post a big total.
Najibullah scored 60 off 35 balls and remained unbeaten till the end of the innings and helped his side reach a total of 178 in 20 overs. Some late slogging from Najibullah helped the Afghans score 51 runs off the last 19 balls.
Aizaz Khan picked up three wickets for Hong King while Tanwir Afzal, Mark Chapman and Tanveer Ahmed picked up one wicket each.
In reply, Hong Kong started off very well as the openers Kinchit Shah and Anshuman Rath made full use of the powerplay to score 56 in 6.3 overs. Once Shah was dismissed, the Afghans slowly made their way back into the game as they reduced the flow of runs from the Hong Kong batsmen.
Mohammad Nabi bowled brilliantly to dismiss four Hong Kong batsmen to pick up his best T20I figures of 4/17 in his four overs. Hong Kong lost their last nine wickets for just 32 runs to lose to the Afghans by 66 runs.
Afghanistan needed a big win and they just got that. In the circumstances, the Afghans did the best they could to stay alive in the tournament. Now, Afghanistan will have to wait for the result between Oman and UAE to see if they will make it successfully past the qualifiers of the Asia Cup.
Brief Scores: Afghanistan 178/7, 20 overs (Najibullah Zadran 60*, Stanikzai 49; Aizaz Khan 3/38) beat Hong Kong 112/10, 17.1 overs (Rath 41; Nabi 4/17, Rashid Khan 2/10, Dawlat Zadra 2/18) by 66 runs.