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T20 World Cup: Shahzad, Hamid star in Afghanistan's 62-run win over Namibia (ld)

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Abu Dhabi, Oct 31 (IANS) Brilliant performances by Mohammad Shahzad (45) and Hamid Hasan (3/9) led Afghanistan to a comprehensive 62-run win over Namibia in a Super 12 stage match of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 at Sheikh Zayed Stadium, here on Sunday.

The victory took Afghanistan to second spot in the Group 2 standings, behind Pakistan who are on top with six points.

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Riding on some entertaining knocks by Mohammad Shahzad (45) and Hazratullah Zazai (33), Afghanistan posted 160/5 in 20 overs. Apart from Shahzad and Zazai, Asghar Afghan (31) and Mohammad Nabi (32) also played vital innings for Afghanistan.

Chasing a challenging target, Namibia lost the wicket of Craig Williams in the first over as he skied a pull straight to the fielder at mid-off. Naveen-ul-Haq then outfoxed Michael van Lingen with a clever slower ball in the 3rd over. It went from bad to worse for Namibia as Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton was cleaned up by Gulbadin Naib by the slower one as the chasing team finished the Powerplay at 29/3.

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Rashid Khan was introduced earlier into the attack and struck with his first ball, with Zane Green completely missing the paddle sweep. From there, David Wiese and Gerhard Erasmus were left to rebuild the innings but struggled to find the ropes as Namibia finished with only four boundaries in the first 10 overs, still needing 106 from the remaining 10.

Eventually, the pressure of the asking rate got to the Namibia batters as they fell one after another trying to go big. While David Wiese kept one end stable, he kept losing partners at the other end. Hamid Hassan dashed Namibia’s hope of a fightback, snaring the wickets of Erasmus and JJ Smit in the same over.

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Naveen returned to the attack and picked up his third wicket of the day, as Jan Frylinck fell trying to up the scoring. Gulbadin then dismissed Pikky Ya France on a slower ball. Hassan picked up his third wicket by ending Wiese’s resistance. In the end, Namibia could only score 98-9 in 20 overs and lost the match by 62 runs.

For Afghanistan, Naveen-ul-Haq (3/26), Hamid Hasan (3/9), Gulbadin Naib (2/19), and Rashid Khan (1/14) shared the spoils.

Earlier, batting first, openers Hazratullah Zazai and Mohammad Shahzad gave Afghanistan a solid start. Between the two, Zazai was more aggressive and he scored the majority of the runs inside the first six overs.

Zazai set the ball rolling with a four and a six in the first over, taking on Ruben Trumpelmann who erred in his line and length twice and was punished. JJ Smit and David Wiese kept things quiet in the next two overs, but once Trumpelmann was back into the attack, Zazai once again took the attack to the left-arm seamer with two more fours.

Afghanistan made up for the two sedate overs, with Zazai and Mohammad Shahzad smacking a six and a four each in the next two overs to take Afghanistan’s Powerplay score to 50.

However, as soon as fielding restrictions were lifted, JJ Smit gave Namibia the much-needed breakthrough as he got rid of Zazai. Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who came to bat next, did not last too long at the crease as he missed the sweep completely and was trapped in front by Loftie-Eaton, leaving Afghanistan to 68-2 after 9.5 overs.

Asghar Afghan, who is playing his last match for Afghanistan on Sunday, came and joined Mohammad Shahzad in the middle. Shahzad welcomed Loftie-Eaton with a six in his third over, as both the batters continued to rotate the strike and kept the scoreboard ticking.

Shahzad’s entertaining knock of 45 finally came to an end in the 13th over. The opener tried to scoop the ball over a short fine leg but he was caught at fly slip. From there, Asghar and Najibullah Zadran hit occasional boundaries. But to score quickly, Zadran got out in the 16th over, leaving his team at 113-4 after 15.4 overs.

With around four more overs to go, two experienced campaigners Asghar Afghan and Mohammad Nabi had the responsibility to finish well for their side and they didn’t disappoint. Both Afghan and Nabi scored freely in the last few overs and took Afghanistan to a strong total of 160/5 in 20 overs.

Brief scores:

Afghanistan 160/5 in 20 overs (Mohammad Shahzad 45, Hazratullah Zazai 33; Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton 2/21) win against Namibia 98-9 in 20 overs (David Wiese 26; Naveen-ul-Haq 3/26, Hamid Hassan 3/9)

–IANS

avn/bsk

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