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Celebrating Afghanistan's 100th ODI

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Afghanistan_100_ODIs_CricketAfghanistan’s second ODI of their ongoing three-match series against Ireland at Belfast will be their 100th appearance in the 50-over format. Since their entry into ODIs nine years ago, the Afghans have played 99 games - winning 52 and losing 45 - and their astonishing rise from the lower rungs to full member status within a decade speaks volumes of their resilience. To mark the century milestone, here is a look back at five of Afghanistan’s most memorable ODI wins.

Beat Scotland by 89 runs, Benoni, 2008-09

Afghanistan made it to the World Cup Qualifier for the first time by virtue of winning the World Cricket League Division Three in Argentina earlier in the year. Though they could not qualify for the 2011 World Cup, they secured ODI status for the next four years after finishing sixth in the Super Eight stage. Thus, the fifth-place playoff against Scotland at Willowmoore Park was Afghanistan’s inaugural ODI, with Nawroz Mangal having the honour of captaining the side.

Mangal elected to bat first, and openers Noor Ali Zadran (45) and Karim Sadiq provided Afghanistan with a blazing start by adding 55 at more than eight runs an over. Mohammad Nabi (58) ensured that the momentum was not lost, while Samiullah Shenwari struck 52 from number seven to thwart a Scottish comeback. Shenwari’s well-paced 86-run partnership for the sixth-wicket with Raees Ahmadzai (39) strengthened the innings, which terminated at a robust 295/8.

The Scots were immediately put on the back foot, as both openers fell with 11 runs on the board. Kyle Coetzer, who top-scored with 44, and Neil McCallum counterattacked with a 61-run third-wicket stand, but this was to be Scotland’s high point. The batting crumbled against the pacers, and despite a tenth-wicket stand of 63, Scotland were dismissed for 206 in 40 overs. Hamid Hassan (3/33) was the pick of the bowlers, while Nabi was named Man of the Match.

Beat Bangladesh by 32 runs, Fatullah, 2013-14

Playing their first Asia Cup, Afghanistan gave Pakistan a few anxious moments in their opening clash, before going down by 72 runs. Their second game was against hosts Bangladesh, who were fast developing into a formidable ODI force. After being put into bat, Afghanistan were stuttering at 90/5 in the 27th over when Shenwari joined Asghar Stanikzai. The duo proceeded to change the complexion of the game with a new Asia Cup record for the sixth-wicket partnership.

Stanikzai and Shenwari combined to add 164, carrying Afghanistan to 254/6. While Shenwari fell for 81, Stanikzai scored 90*. Bangladesh’s reply began woefully, as they fell to 1/2, which later became 88/4 with the wicket of Mominul Haque (50). Though the middle order attempted to rebuild, Nabi (3/44) led a disciplined bowling display with his off-spin. The Tigers eventually folded for 222 in the 48th over to give Afghanistan their first ODI win against a full member side.

Beat Scotland by one wicket, Dunedin, 2014-15

A second-place finish in the 2011-13 World Cricket League Championship enabled Afghanistan to qualify for their first ever World Cup, the 2015 edition in Australia and New Zealand. In their second match at Dunedin’s University Oval, Afghanistan gave Sri Lanka a run for their money - they had the 1996 champions at 51/4 in a chase of 233, before losing by four wickets. Four days later, they faced Scotland at the same venue - their best chance to win a game at the World Cup.

After Nabi called correctly, the Afghan pace attack, spearheaded by the unrelated Zadrans, Shapoor (4/38) and Dawlat (3/29), did not allow any of the Scottish batsmen to settle for a reasonable period. It was only due to a ninth-wicket stand of 62 between Majid Haq and Alasdair Evans that Scotland could drag their total to 210. Javed Ahmadi and Mangal responded confidently, adding 42 for the opening wicket at a fast clip, until the latter was bowled by Evans.

Ahmadi sped to a run-a-ball 51 before being the third batsman out. His dismissal triggered a dramatic collapse, and in the space of 33 balls, Afghanistan crashed from 85/2 to 97/7. Dawlat was eighth out at 132, giving medium pacer Richie Berrington (4/40) his fourth wicket, but Shenwari, who came in at 46/2, was still out there as Afghanistan’s last beacon of hope. In the combative Hamid Hassan, he found a willing partner, and the pair steadily ate away at the target.

The ninth-wicket partnership made 60 before Shenwari was caught at deep mid-wicket for a gritty 96 in 147 balls. Afghanistan now needed 19 from as many balls, with Shapoor the last man in. Both teams were striving for their first World Cup win, and it all boiled down to the last over, off which five were needed. Off the third ball, Shapoor hit the winning four and raced off in joy, before falling to the ground with his hands spread wide, making for a heart-warming image.

Beat West Indies by 63 runs, Gros Islet, 2017

A sensational performance from 18-year-old leg-spinner Rashid Khan handed Afghanistan their first ODI win against the West Indies. With this win, Afghanistan took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series, which was their first bilateral engagement in the Caribbean. Ahmadi was the cornerstone of the Afghan innings on a sluggish pitch, top-scoring with 81 in a total of 212/6. Nabi and Gulbadin Naib (41*) lent late impetus to the total with a seventh-wicket stand of 58*.

The West Indies were 68/2 in 22 overs when Rashid was introduced, and he removed Jason Mohammed and Roston Chase off his first two balls to begin the hosts’ downfall. He snared two wickets in two deliveries in his next over too, reducing the score to 70/6. At this stage, Rashid’s figures read a mind-boggling 2-1-1-4. He duly collected three more victims to finish with 7/18 in 8.4 overs (the fourth best return in ODI history), condemning the Windies to 149 in the 45th over.

Beat West Indies by seven wickets, Harare, 2017-18

Following defeats to Scotland, Zimbabwe and Hong Kong in their first three matches of the World Cup Qualifier, Afghanistan needed a miracle to keep the dream alive. With a slice of luck, they reached the Super Six round, where they beat the West Indies, the UAE and - in what was a knockout duel - Ireland to book their berth at the 2019 World Cup. They met the West Indies again in the final, and put the finishing touches on a phenomenal comeback by winning the title.

Off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman (4/43), who was three days away from turning 17, got rid of the dangerous Chris Gayle early, and from thereon, Afghanistan were always dictating terms. The West Indies were bowled out for 204 in the 47th over, and then were at the receiving end of Mohammad Shahzad’s belligerent 84 from 93 balls. Shahzad added 58 with Naib for the first wicket and 90 with Rahmat Shah (51) for the third to deliver the victory with 56 balls remaining.

 

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Rustom Deboo is a cricket aficionado and freelance writer from Mumbai. He is an ardent devotee of T...

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