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Afghanistan holds nerve for three-wicket win

Chasing Oman's 165 for 4, Noor Ali, Najibullah and Dawlat Zadran make crucial runs for side's first victory in the tournament

Afghanistan holds nerve for three-wicket win - Cricket News
Noor Ali Zadran scored his highest Twenty20 International score of 63 in 44 balls.

Afghanistan needed ten runs in five balls to win against Oman when Dawlat Zadran hit two consecutive sixes off Ajay Lalcheta to seal the deal by three wickets at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium in Fatullah on Saturday (February 20) and open the side's account in the Asia Cup qualifier.

Noor Ali Zadran’s highest Twenty20 International score of 63 in 44 balls and his fifth-wicket partnership of 59 runs with Najibullah Zadran set up the successful chase of 166 after Oman, having elected to bat first, made 165 for 4 on the back of half-centuries by Zeeshan Maqsood and Adnan Ilyas.

Najibullah joined Noor Ali, who opened the innings, when Afghanistan was 81 for 4 in 9.3 overs. They did not take much time to get going as Noor Ali hit three fours in six balls across two overs.

Afghanistan needed 26 off 22 deliveries when Oman pulled things back through Bilal Khan. First, Najibullah was trapped in front of the wicket for 22, and one ball later, Noor Ali, who had hit eight fours till then, was out in similar fashion.

In Bilal’s final over, Samiullah Shenwari hit two back-to-back fours on either side of the pitch bringing the equation down to 13 needed off ten balls. Bilal finished strongly to return figures of 3 for 33 before Lalcheta had Shenwari caught in the deep off the first ball of the final over.

Oman, who had beaten Hong Kong on Friday, would have wanted a second win in the tournament, but Dawlat had different plans.

Earlier in the day, Oman started strongly through the opening partnership of 72 runs between Maqsood and Jatinder Singh. Gulbadin Naib provided Afghanistan the first breakthrough in the 11th over when he had Jatinder caught at long on for 23. 

Maqsood was the next to fall as he was stumped off Amir Hamza in the 14th over. His 42-ball 52 consisted of five fours and two sixes.

Oman kept up the charge through Ilyas’s 27-ball 54, which included three fours and four sixes. But when in the 17th over he became Naib’s second victim, Oman lost momentum. It hit only 19 runs in their last three overs and that proved decisive in the final analysis.

Afghanistan next takes on Hong Kong on February 22 before Oman plays the United Arab Emirates, who beat Afghanistan, in the second fixture that evening. That will be the last game of the qualifier, with the group topper joining Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India in the main tournament.

Please click here to review the match in full in the ICC Match Centre

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