Rahman Shah scored 68 runs to help Afghanistan to a three-wicket victory over the West Indies at the Harare Sports Club in their first Super Sixes clash in World Cup qualifiers on Thursday.
The victory reignited Afghanistan’s qualification campaign, and gave the Windies their first loss of the competition.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman took 3-33 runs as he spearheaded the Afghan attack, which saw them limit their more illustrious opponents to just 197-8 runs in their 50 overs.
It did not help the West Indies’ cause that the big-hitting Chris Gayle was dismissed for one, but wicketkeeper Shai Hope did well as he top-scored with 43; but he would not have been happy that he used up 94 balls to get them.
Marlon Samuels’ 36 off 64 balls was also a bit pedestrian for the West Indies, but captain Jason Holder’s 28 off 26 accelerated the scoring.
Afghanistan’s chase started in the worst way possible when they lost the first two wickets for just 17 runs on the board.
But once Shah came to the crease, they were able to steady the ship.
The Afghans did well to ensure that the required run rate never got over five runs an over as they made steady progress throughout their innings. But worryingly, they lost wickets at regular intervals.
After Rahman, the next best score for Afghanistan was 31 off 54 balls by Mohammad Nabi.
Teenaged captain Rashid Khan was in the middle with Sharafuddin Ashraf when Afghanistan sealed the win with 14 balls to spare.
After the game, Rashid said: ‘We didn’t play well in the first round, but it’s good to come back and start with a win. The bowlers did superbly to restrict a big team. It was nervous as the chase went on, we lost our way, much like we did in the first round. I wanted to keep playing till the end, bat through. We knew we’d win if we did that.’
West Indies skipper Jason Holder said: ‘Credit to them, we let ourselves down; 230 would’ve been a good total. Later in the field, we were sloppy. With the bat, we had wickets in hand, a solid foundation but couldn’t launch. We have to regroup and come back against Zimbabwe.’
The West Indies play hosts Zimbabwe on Monday, and Afghanistan take on the United Arab Emirates.
In the other World Cup Qualifying game, Matthew Cross scored 114 as Scotland scored 322-6 and beat the UAE by 73 runs. They moved to the top of the Super Sixes table, giving themselves a good chance of qualification with two games remaining.
Photo: Julian Herbert/Getty Images