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Shenwari’s five-for helps Afghanistan qualify

Leg-spinner takes 5 for 13, as Kenya folds for 114, in pursuit of 149

Shenwari’s five-for helps Afghanistan qualify - Cricket News
Samiullah Shenwari's 5 for 13 helped Afghanistan to a 35-run win.
Helped by Samiullah Shenwari’s five-wicket haul, Afghanistan qualified for the ICC World Twenty20 2014 in Bangladesh by registering a 34-run win against Kenya in Match 56 of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Sunday (November 24). 

Electing to bat first, Afghanistan lost Mohammad Shahzad off the third ball of the innings, when he was caught off Nehemiah Odhiambo. Following the early setback, Karim Sadiq (30) and Noor Ali Zadran (50) stitched together a 48-run partnership for the second wicket off 28 balls. However, following Sadiq’s dismissal in the sixth over, Kenya’s bowlers took some quick wickets, as Afghanistan slipped to 78 for 5. Najibullah Zadran then joined Noor Ali Zadran for a 56-run stand, to help Afghanistan to a respectable 148 for 9 after 20 overs. Najibullah’s 25-ball 33 included a four and a six.
 
Kenya’s bowlers came up with a collective effort, with Duncan Allan and Collins Obuya taking two wickets each, and Nehemiah Odhiambo, Ragheb Aga, Shem Ngoche and Thomas Odoyo taking one apiece.

Kenya’s batsmen put on a disappointing show, allowing the Afghanistan bowlers to make frequent inroads. Rakep Patel top-scored for his team, with a 38-ball 52, that included a couple of boundaries and three sixes. However, with Steve Tikolo’s 25 at the top of the order being the only other contribution of note, Kenya folded in 18.2 overs for 114, to hand Afghanistan a comfortable win.

Samiullah Shenwari’s leg-breaks fetched him figures of 5 for 13 off his four overs. “This was very important match for us as a win here would have guaranteed us a qualification through to World twenty20," he said. "Thanks to God, my coach and captain, who believed in me and gave me a chance to prove myself.” 

Shenwari has taken 13 wickets in the tournament so far. When asked about the secret of his success, he said, “We have put in lot of hard work for this tournament. We came to UAE two weeks before the start and had a camp in Sharjah, where I worked a lot on my bowling discipline, which has paid off.”

Mohammad Nabi, the Afghanistan captain, said it was very satisfying to qualify for next year’s main event in Bangladesh. “We have proved that we are one of the better teams amongst associate members," he said. "We have topped the group, we had a setback at the start of the tournament losing our first match, we learned from it that we really have to perform together as a team. It is really satisfying to qualify for Bangladesh and we will try our best in the World Twenty20.” 

Nabi said that though bowling has always been Afghanistan’s strength, the batsmen had stood up at crucial junctures in the tournament.

“Bowling has always been our strength, but in this tournament we have put lot of impetus on performing well in the batting department. Few of our fast bowlers were injured and not in the best of form, but our batsmen stood up to the task in crucial times.”

Having lost a must-win encounter, Kenya is now out of the reckoning. On failing to qualify for the next stage, Collins Obuya said, “We are very disappointed, we got a very good start, we did keep Afghanistan side under pressure in the first three overs of our batting but then we had a mini-collapse in the middle order, after which it got really difficult with our wickets falling at regular intervals after which we just lost control over the match.

“We have a good overall team; I thought our side is lot better than some of the teams to have qualified for next stage. Maybe we did not play to our full potential and luck was not on our side.”

Afghanistan finished on top of Group B, pocketing 12 points from its seven games, while Kenya finished with three wins.

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