Afghanistan pushed Sri Lanka all the way in Game 12 and if it hadn't been for another disappointing final period with the bat they 'could've, should've, would've' won that game.
When the Zadran boys Dawlat and Shapoor created ICC Cricket World Cup history by dismissing both openers for first ball ducks, the Afghanistan team could dare to dream. But Mahela Jayawardena proved his class with a quality century and Perera closed the innings out, with some power hitting, another near miss......
England were always going to bounce back after two horrific losses. When a close shout against Ian Bell didn't go the Scots way, England put on 172 for the first wicket to build a solid platform. The Scots stuck with the task admirably, however, only conceding 100 in the last 15 overs.
Calum MacLoed, Freddie Coleman and Matt Machan were all back in the pavilion inside 12 overs and it was always going to be an uphill struggle from that point. Kyle Coetzer got 71 off 84 balls, but when he departed in the 26th over, England knew their first points in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 were secure.
Ireland versus UAE was always going to be a significant game but who could have anticipated the blockbuster that followed.
Ireland won the toss and elected to bowl. Surprisingly, it wasn't the openers doing the damage at the Gabba wicket but Paul Stirling with his gentle off-breaks who took two for 27 off his 10 overs. Andy McBrine who had bowled so well in the West Indies game didn't play in a "horses for courses" move which saw Alex Cusack play in his birthplace.
UAE were reduced to 125 for five in the 32nd over and Ireland must have thought they'd be chasing 240. Shaiman Anwar and Amjad Javed had other ideas and proceeded to add just under 110 in 11 overs. When Javed was finally dismissed, Anwar went on to score 31 of the next 15 deliveries. A competitive score of 278 was posted.
Stirling went early and with 30+ run contributions from three of the top five it was obvious that a big partnership was needed to get Ireland home. Enter Kevin "the Karate Kid" O'Brien with a game changing 25-ball 50. This contribution gave Gary Wilson (who played an innings worthy of an ICC Cricket World Cup stage) time to assess the situation and determine which bowlers to attack and which to milk, but time was running out. Wilson, who is generally a slow starter, went a run-a-ball or better throughout his innings and it was this that kept Ireland in the hunt. It wasn't over yet though....
O'Brien, John Mooney and Wilson were all out inside three overs. Alex Cusack and George Dockrell saw Ireland home with four balls to spare. There were plenty of people reaching for something to dry their sweaty palms.
Match 17 was another all associate battle with Afghanistan versus Scotland.
This time the real Afghanistan bowling attack turned up and Scotland were in trouble all the way through their innings losing wickets on a consistent basis. The only real partnership of note was Majid Haq and Alister Evans which yielded 62 runs in 12.2 overs.
Shapoor and Dawlat Zadran collectively had the figures of seven for 67 off 20 overs. If you include extras there, were seven scores between 23 to 31which inevitability means a score around 200. Scotland reached 210 in their 50.
True to the way, Scotland play their cricket they fought hard, one regret that will be analysed was the extra two overs bowled through wides and one no-balls. It would have been great to see Mohammad Shahzad open at this ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 and I reckon Afghanistan may now feel the same.
However, Samiullah Shenwari held the innings together and deserved to get his century. In the end, it was left to the three quickies to guide them home. The conclusion of the game brought great cricketing drama and true sporting entertainment.
Would UAE have anything left in the tank in this ICC Cricket World Cup? Losing to Ireland would have deflated their tyres. With matches coming quick and fast they would need to regroup. Next up, the current World champions, India......
For a team that should be used to spin, UAE were torn apart by the wizardry of Ravichadran Ashwin. Only three players achieved double figures and after winning the toss, Mohammad Tauqir would have felt bitterly disappointed. Once again, Shaiman Anwar offered the strongest resistance with 35 runs. The UAE need to find a way to score runs up front or this tournament will dwindle away.
The second innings was no more than a glorified net for India. One positive during UAE's fielding was Rohan Mustafa's catch.
All the associate nations can hold their heads up high, they've done ok. However, the second half of pool stage matches will tell a truer story with some big fixtures in store.
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