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12 July 201522:15

Shahzad blitz takes Afghanistan to third straight win

Opener smashes 75 off 36 balls to help his side post 210 for 5; Scotland is bowled out for 173 in reply

Shahzad blitz takes Afghanistan to third straight win - Cricket News
When Mohammad Shahzad, the Afghanistan opener, was asked about his experience of playing in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in Ireland and Scotland so far, he said: "The conditions here do not suit us, so each and every game we play, it is important for us to put in that extra effort."

That 'extra effort' from Shahzad had yielded 74 off 37 balls against the United Arab Emirates on Friday to help his side complete a comprehensive eight-wicket victory at the Grange Cricket Club Ground in Edinburgh.

On Sunday (July 12) at the same venue, in a Group B clash, Shahzad bettered that performance with a 36-ball 75 against Scotland as Afghanistan posted a colossal 210 for 5 in 20 overs. Afghanistan completed a 37-run win after bowling Scotland out for 173 in the final over for its third successive victory.
After choosing to bat first, Afghanistan lost Nawroz Mangal (0) off just the fourth ball of the innings, but Shahzad and Asghar Stanikzai, the captain, took it upon themselves to ensure a solid platform. The duo added 110 off just 63 balls, Shahzad smashing seven sixes and five fours in the second-wicket stand. He particularly targeted Mark Watt, smashing five sixes and two fours in the two overs bowled by the left-arm spinner.

Con de Lange, the other left-arm spinner, finally managed to break the partnership in the 12th over when Shahzad stepped out to lob a catch straight to Michael Leask at long-on.

Shahzad, already the highest run scorer in the history of the tournament at the beginning of this match, is now 216 runs clear of Kyle Coetzer, who is placed second with 387 runs to his name.

With the scoreboard already reading 112 for 2, Afghanistan could afford to take more risks, and as it turned out, the batsmen to follow successfully capitalised on Shahzad's blitzkrieg.

Stanikzai (34), Samiullah Shenwari (19 off 12), Najibullah Zadran (37 off 21), and Mohammad Nabi (33 off 18) all played their parts in the remaining eight overs to take Afghanistan to its highest T20 score.

There was little to celebrate for Scotland's bowlers, most of whom leaked more than 10 runs per over. Leask was an honourable exception with outstanding figures of 2 for 24 from his four overs.

Scotland's chase featured two good knocks - a quick-fire 44 off 20 balls from Preston Mommsen which included four sixes and three boundaries, and a 22-ball 37 from Richie Berrington - but lacked the overall firepower needed to scale down the gargantuan target.

Nabi and Mirwais Ashraf, the medium pacers, put the early brakes with two wickets each - a setback from which Mommsen's side could never recover, despite the skipper’s late attack.

Nabi returned in the 18th over to dismiss Leask and end with figures of 3 for 25. Hamid Hassan, the right-arm fast bowler, ably supported Nabi with three wickets for 29 runs in his four overs as Afghanistan further consolidated its hold over the top position in the group with six points from three matches.

To view full scorecard, please click here.