LUCKNOW: Half-centuries from Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi after a combined bowling effort led Afghanistan to a resounding seven-wicket victory over the Netherlands in the 34th match of the ICC World Cup 2023.
A well-calculated victory lifted Afghanistan to fifth in the World Cup standings, replacing Pakistan, who have six points in seven matches.
Set to chase a modest 180, Afghanistan comfortably amassed the total for the loss of just three wickets and 111 balls to spare.
Afghanistan openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz (10) and Ibrahim Zadran (20) failed to inspire in the modest pursuit and both returned to the pavilion in the 11th over with just 55 runs on the board.
Skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi and Rahmat Shah then put Afghanistan in control by stitching a 74-run partnership with both scoring half-centuries.
Shah, however, fell unlucky to go unbeaten as he handed a simple catch to Saqib Zulfiqar on his follow-through. He scored a 54-ball 52 with the help of eight boundaries.
Meanwhile, Shahidi stood his ground firm and knitted a match-winning partnership with Azmatullah Omarzai, who scored a brisk 31 not out.
Shahidi top-scored for Afghanistan with an unbeaten 56. His 64-ball knock featured six boundaries.
For the Netherlands, Logan van Beek, Roelof van der Merwe and Saqib Zulfiqar could pick up a wicket apiece.
Opting to bat first, the Netherlands’ batting lineup unfolded in the 47th over, putting a modest total of 179 on the board despite Sybrand Engelbrecht’s half-century.
The Dutch side had a dismal start to their innings as Mujeeb Ur Rahman removed Wesley Barresi (1) in the first over.
Following the early blow, Colin Ackermann and Max O’Dowd put together an anchoring 70-run partnership for the second wicket and pulled their side out of trouble.
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The pair began to dominate the Afghan bowlers before O’Dowd’s sensible knock came to an end in the 12thy over, courtesy of a direct hit by Azmatullah Omarzai.
O’Dowd smashed nine boundaries on his way to a 40-ball 42.
Engelbrecht then joined Ackermann in the middle and they could put together a brief 19-run stand before the former fell victim to a suicidal running. He scored 29 in 35 deliveries, hitting four boundaries.
The dismal running between the wickets harmed the Dutch side again when their skipper Scott Edwards’ fell for a duck on the next delivery.
He went for a sweep but only managed an under-edge towards the keeper and Edwards, clueless of where the ball was, marched down the pitch and allowed Ikram Alikhil to dislodge the bails.
His dismissal sparked a collapse and the Netherlands began to lose wickets at an alarming rate.
Engelbrecht stood his ground firm and kept the scoreboard ticking singlehandedly until he, too, got run out, taking the total tally to four.
He top-scored for the Netherlands with a cautious 58. His 86-ball knock featured six boundaries.
Meanwhile, Roelof van der Merwe (11) and Aryan Dutt (10) added vital runs at the backend.
Mohammad Nabi led the bowling attack for Afghanistan with 3/28 while Noor Ahmad bagged two wickets.