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Unbeaten Afghanistan, Scotland top groups

Ireland and Oman are the other two semi-finalists of the Desert T20 Challenge

Afghanistan and Scotland put up comprehensive shows against Namibia and Oman respectively at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Thursday (January 19) to keep their unbeaten streak in the Desert T20 Challenge intact.

Afghanistan will take on Oman in the first semi-final, while Scotland will face Ireland in the second semi-final. The winners will face off in the final in what would be the third game of the day in Dubai on Friday.

Afghanistan v Namibia

Afghanistan’s unbeaten run in the tournament extended to three games as it beat Namibia by 64 runs and finished on top of Group A.

After Afghanistan won the toss, four of its batsmen made 30-plus scores to take the team to 167 for 6. Namibia was reduced 7 for 4 in its chase and staged a recovery of sorts before being dismissed for 103 in 19.2 overs.

Mohammad Shahzad and Nawroz Mangal, in his first match of the tournament, put on an opening stand of 56 runs in 8.1 overs to get the game started. The highlight of their stand was Mangal hitting Gerrie Snyman for three fours in the fourth over.

Bernand Scholtz got the breakthrough when he uprooted Mangal’s stumps for 32. Scholtz then had Shahzad caught behind for a run-a-ball 31 and bowled Najibullah Zadran as Afghanistan slipped to 82 for 3 in 12.2 overs.

Namibia could not capitalise on the momentum, allowing Asghar Stanikzai, the captain, and Samiullah Shenwari to put on 55 runs for the fourth wicket at 11.00 per over. The partnership included three fours and as many sixes.

Even though Shenwari (35) and Stanikzai (31) fell in the space of two runs, Afghanistan had the momentum. Mohammad Nabi and Gulbadin Naib added 25 runs in 11 balls to post Afghanistan’s highest total of the tournament in front of around 3,000 fans.

Namibia’s chase got off to a poor start as it lost four wickets in the first three overs. That it crossed the 100-run mark was because of a seventh-wicket stand of 53 between Snyman and Jan Frylinck when it was floundering at 38 for 6.

Rashid Khan trapped Frylinck lbw for his first wicket off the first ball of the 18th over, and then picked up two more scalps off consecutive deliveries to finish with impressive figures of 2.2-0-4-3. Amir Hamza, who opened the bowling, made a strong impact at the top, finishing with figures of 2 for 24.

Stanikzai used a total of eight bowlers, of whom six got at least one wicket. Failing to win a single game, Namibia ended at the bottom of the table.

“It was a good win. The boys put in a good effort to win three consecutive matches,” Rashid said after the match. “It is always important for your team to top the group and play the second team of the next group (in the semi-final). We planned well for all the matches.”


Oman v Scotland

A disciplined bowling effort, and handy batting contributions from Matthew Cross and Calum MacLeod, helped Scotland beat Oman by seven wickets and finish on top of Group B.

Chasing 134 after Oman had been bowled out for 133 in 20 overs, Scotland rallied around Cross’s 40-ball 47 and MacLeod’s unbeaten 30-ball 35 to chase down the target in 19 overs.

The base for the chase was laid by an opening stand of 43 between George Munsey and Kyle Coetzer.

Coetzer was aggressive in his intent as he hit three fours, but fell for 25 in the first over after the Power Play when Zeeshan Maqsood trapped him in front of the wicket. Munsey followed his skipper five runs later as Scotland reached 48 for 2.

Oman would have smelt an opening, but its hopes of topping the group were shattered as Cross and MacLeod put on 71 runs in 8.4 overs. The first 18 balls of the partnership did not fetch a single boundary before Cross hit Ajay Lalcheta for a six to break the shackles. MacLeod hit Khawar Ali for a four in the next over, and not long after that hit, Mohammad Nadeem for a six and a four in one over.

Cross took two fours off Bilal Khan in the 17th over before falling off the last ball of that over. By then, Scotland needed only 15, which MacLeod and Craig Wallace took care of.

Earlier in the evening, Oman, after electing to bat, lost both its openers in the first five overs to find itself 26 for 2. There was no significant partnership after that barring 36 for the fifth wicket between Khurram Nawaz and Lalcheta.

The stand helped Oman recover from 51 for 4, but Lalcheta’s dismissal in the 15th over triggered another collapse that proved decisive in the end.

Safyaan Sharif was Scotland’s best bowler with figures of 3 for 33, which included Nawaz’s scalp for 23. Mark Watt and Con de Lange picked up two wickets each for a complete bowling performance.

Oman finished with two points, the same as Hong Kong and the Netherlands, but made it to the knockouts based on its superior net run-rate of +0.890. Hong Kong’s corresponding figure was -0.005, while it was -1.529 for the Netherlands.

Brief scores: Afghanistan 167 for 6 in 20 overs (Mohammad Shahzad 31, Nawroz Mangal 32, Asghar Stanikzai 31, Samiullah Shenwari 35; Christopher Coombe 2-37, Bernard Scholtz 3-17) beat Namibia 103 all out in 19.2 overs (Gerrie Snyman 26, Jan Frylinck 28; Amir Hamza 2-24, Rashid Khan 3-4) by 64 runs. MoM: Rashid Khan.

Oman 133 all out in 20 overs (Safyaan Sharif 3-33, Mark Watt 2-23, Con de Lange 2-23) lost to Scotland 134/3 in 19 overs (Kyle Coetzer 25, Matthew Cross 47 not out, Calum MacLeod 35 not out) by seven wickets. MoM: Matthew Cross.

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