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    Asghar Stanikzai elated after Afghanistan overtakes Ireland

    Netherlands captain Peter Borren says Afghanistan is a “serious contender” for the ICC Intercontinental Cup

    Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai was elated after an impressive all-round effort against the Netherlands saw his team reach the top spot in the ICC Intercontinental Cup points table, but cautioned that more needed to be done by his team.

    Afghanistan defeated host Netherlands inside two days by an innings and 36 runs on Saturday in Voorburg to reach 61 points from four matches, but is not really ahead since defending champion Ireland is on 60 points from one less match.

    “It was really important for us to win and get on top and I’m happy with our overall performance. However, our most important match will be against Ireland as that will decide the real position,” Asghar said in reference to their ICC Intercontinental Cup match in March 2017.

    The Intercontinental Cup, a four-day first-class competition, is an integral part of the cricket schedule for sides below the 10 Test playing countries and is a pathway to Test cricket. The winner will take on the 10th-ranked Test team in an ICC Test Challenge in 2018. If the ICC Intercontinental Cup winner wins the ICC Test Challenge, then it will secure Test status until the next ICC Test Challenge, which will take place in 2022.
    Asghar said he was happy with the performance, “especially with the bowling”, after pace bowlers Yamin Ahmedzai (five for 29) and Dawlat Zadran (four for 32) set up the game by helping skittle out the Netherlands for 117 in only 39.4 overs.

    Hashmatullah Shahidi then top-scored with 83 in Afghanistan’s total of 312 before left-arm spinner Zahir Khan (four for 29) and Dawlat (three for 45) helped dismiss the home side for 159 in the second innings.

    Netherlands captain Peter Borren conceded that his team had lost the plot in the first innings.

    “Posting 117 as a first innings score on a good wicket was never enough. Our dismissals were poor to say the least, and we never really showed any fight. The depth that Afghanistan have is impressive, and is something that other Associate teams envy, I’m sure.

    “They have quality batters with (Mohammad) Nabi batting at seven, and a lot of options with the ball, which makes them serious contenders for the ICC Intercontinental Cup,” Borren said.

    Ireland has a chance to reclaim the top position when it hosts Hong Kong in a fourth round match in Belfast from 30 August to 2 September.

    Brief scores:

    Netherlands 117 (Peiter Seelaar 38 not out, Michael Rippon 24; Yamin Ahmedzai 5-29, Dawlat Zadran 4-32) and 159 (Michael Rippon 80, Stephan Myburgh 23; Zahir Khan 4-29, Dawlat Zadran 3-45).

    Afghanistan 312 (Hashmatullah Shahidi 83, Rahmat Shah 51, Nasir Jamal 43, Mirwais Ashraf 42; Michael Rippon 5-79)

    Result: Afghanistan won by an innings and 117 runs

    Points: Afghanistan 20 Netherlands 0

    Next match: Scotland v UAE, 9-12 August, Mannofield, Aberdeen

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