Bowlers restrict Scotland to 237/8 before Ahmadi, Ghani, Zazai and Jamal knock off the runs with ease
With just over a month left for the start of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, the tri-series in the United Arab Emirates gives Afghanistan, Scotland and Ireland a chance to polish rough edges. And Afghanistan ticked most boxes in the first game of the tournament on Thursday (January 8), with a commanding eight-wicket win over Scotland at the ICC Academy Ground in Dubai.
After the start of the match was delayed because of bad weather, it became a 45-overs-a-side game, and Afghanistan chose to field and restricted Scotland to 237 for 8 before knocking off the runs in 38 overs.
Javed Ahmadi and Usman Ghani, the Afghanistan openers, came out all guns blazing and got the team off to a brisk start, putting together 121 runs for the first wicket in just 17.3 overs.
Ghani, who was the first to fall, just two short of his third One-Day International half-century, made his intentions clear early on when he smashed Rob Taylor for two consecutive fours to get things going. He eventually fell for 48 off 39 balls, trapped lbw by Richie Berrington.
Ahmadi, who initially played second fiddle to Ghani, was also in his groove and made a well-compiled 81-ball 74. He, too, perished trying to take on Berrington and gave a simple catch to Preston Mommsen, the captain, at mid-off.
The ICC Academy Ground hasn’t been a happy venue for Afghanistan as it has managed just one win in the last five games there and, with both openers back in the pavilion in the space of just 15 runs, Scotland did have a chance to get back in the game with the scoreboard reading 136 for 2. However, Afsar Zazai (48 in 58 balls) and Nasir Jamal (52 in 51 balls) collaborated in an unbeaten 104-run stand to quell any hopes Scotland might have had.
Earlier, Scotland got off to a less-than-ideal start with Calum MacLeod dismissed by Dawlat Zadran off the third ball of the innings with just one run on the board. Kyle Coetzer and Hamish Gardiner then added 47 runs for the second wicket before Coetzer (22) was caught behind off Mirwais Ashraf.
Gardiner, the Australia-born batsman, held the innings together, scoring 96 off 104, but fell short of a well-deserved maiden ODI century. In trying to up the ante, he was bowled by Zadran in the 38th over. With no one else contributing big – Matt Machan (24) and Matthew Cross (28) were the only others to get starts – it took some late hitting from Josh Davey (22 not out from 17 balls) to take Scotland to a below-par total.
The next game of the tournament pits Afghanistan and Ireland against each other on Sunday.
To see the full scorecard of the match between Afghanistan and Scotland in Dubai, please click here.