2016 Asia Cup Qualifiers, Match 3, Afghanistan v Oman: Afghanistan win last-over thriller, keep tournament hopes alive
After having lost their first game of the 2016 Asia Cup Qualifiers, Afghanistan were hoping for a better performance in the second game against Oman. On the other hand, Oman after having won their first game against Hong Kong by five runs were looking to make a real impression in their first appearance in the Asia Cup.
Oman won the toss and elected to bat first as scoring 180 in Friday's match would have given them a clear indication of how the pitch at Fatullah was going to behave.
The openers go Oman off to a good start as they shared a 72-run partnership in 10.4 overs. Although the run rate was not a lot, having wickets in hand helped Oman's cause as they were able to accelerate late on and put up a good score of 165 in 20 overs.
Opener, Zeeshan Maqsood scored 54 off 42 balls to help lay the foundation for Oman while Adnan Ilyas played a crucial attacking knock of 54 off 27 balls hitting 3 fours and 4 sixes.
Ilyas’ wicket turned out to be a major one as Afghanistan pegged back Oman as they conceded only 21 runs in the last 21 balls. Gulbadin Naib picked up two wickets for the Afghans while Dawlat Zadran and Amir Hamza picked up a wicket each.
In reply, the Afghans lost their attacking opener, Mohammad Shahzad very early again as Bilal Khan picked up the Afghanistan wicketkeeper's wicket in the very first over.
However, a quick 54-run partnership between captain Asghar Stanikzai and Noor Ali Zadran helped in kickstarting the Afghan chase. Stanikzar was the main enforcer as he scored 34 runs off 17 balls, scoring 26 of those runs via boundaries, making good use of the powerplay.
Karim Sadiq, who had played a very good knock of 72 in the first game against the UAE, was out for a duck on the very first ball he faced.
Experienced campaigner, Mohammad Nabi was also not able to stay long at the crease as he departed after making just 11 runs. Noor Ali's 59-run partnership with Najibullah Zadran is what brought Afghanistan back into the game and set the tone for a win.
However, both batsmen fell to good deliveries from Bilal Khan, who got them both out in the space of three balls, thus putting the Afghanistan lower-order under some pressure. Noor Ali contributed with a well-made fifty, scoring 63 off 44 balls.
Gulbadin Naib and Samiullah Shenwari were the new batsmen after the set batsmen, Noor Ali and Najibullah, were dismissed when Afghanistan needed 25 off the last three overs.
When Shenwari lost his wicket in the first ball of the 20th over, it seemed like Afghanistan were inching closer to an another upset loss with 10 runs needed off five balls. However, Dawlat Zadran, the Afghans’ frontline bowler hit the first two balls he faced for sixes and sent Afghanistan fans into delirium as they kept their Asia Cup hopes alive with a three-wicket win.
Brief Scores: Afghanistan 168/7, 19.3 overs (Noor Ali Zadran 63, Stanikzai 34; Bilal Khan 3/33, Mehran Khan 3/40) beat Oman 165/4, 20 overs (Ilyas 54, Maqsood 52; Naib 2/24) by three wickets.