ICC Media: Afghanistan’s dreams of qualifying for the second successive ICC Cricket World Cup were left hanging by a thread when Hong Kong defeated them by 30 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern Method in a Group B fixture of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018, while defending champions Scotland became the first side to progress to the Super Six after notching up their third successive victory in Bulawayo.
Elsewhere, the Windies were given a run for their money before beating PNG by six wickets and the United Arab Emirates won their second match in three outings when they handed the Netherlands their second successive defeat.
After batsmen-dominated proceedings on Tuesday with as many as five centuries and five half-centuries, honours were shared on Thursday with the Windies’ fast bowler Carlos Braithwaite returning career-best figures of 10-2-27-5 and captain Jason Holder scoring 99 not out against PNG, the UAE captain Rohan Mustafa recording figures of 9.3-2-26-5 with his off-spinners which was followed by a classy 78 not out by Chirag Suri against the Netherlands, Coetzer hitting a match-winning 88 not out against Nepal and Hong Kong off-spinner Ehsan Khan taking four for 33 against Afghanistan.
Afghanistan, chasing 242 for victory, were 167 for seven when rain stopped play and resulted in a loss of four overs. The target was revised to 226 runs in 46 overs, but it proved too much for the lower-order which managed only 28 runs as Afghanistan finished at 195 for nine.
The victory means that if Hong Kong now win their next game against Zimbabwe and Nepal lose to Afghanistan, Hong Kong will be guaranteed a spot in the Super Six ahead of Afghanistan.
If this doesn’t happen on Saturday, then Hong Kong can qualify for the Super Six if they defeat Nepal on Monday. This is because Hong Kong have a win and a loss after two matches, while Afghanistan are winless from three matches.
In contrast, Afghanistan have an outside chance to qualify for Super Six. For this to happen, they will have to beat Nepal on Saturday and Hong Kong will have to lose both their matches on Saturday and Monday.
In this scenario, net run-rate will decide which side will go through as both Hong Kong and Afghanistan would end on equal wins and points.
Afghanistan are themselves to blame for Thursday’s defeat. They first let Hong Kong off the hook when they allowed them to reach 241 for eight in 50 overs after having reduced them to 43 for three and then 93 for four. Then, in their target chase, they slipped from 26 for no loss to 73 for four and then played too many dot-balls to be at 167 for seven in 43 overs at the rain-break before finishing at 195 for nine.
Meanwhile, Scotland became the first side to qualify for the Super Six after Stuart Whittingham (three for 35), Safyaan Sharif (two for 21) and Alasdair Evans (two for 24) shared wickets between them to dismiss Nepal for 149 in 47.4 overs at the Queens Sports Club.
Rohan Mustafa and Chirag Suri scripted a famous win for the UAE over the Netherlands when the former took five for 26 with the ball and the latter scored 78 not out with seven fours and a six as the ICC World Cricket League Division winners achieved the 177-run target in 44 overs for the loss of four wickets.
Match Summaries: Scotland beat Nepal by four wickets, Queens Sports Club (Group B)
Nepal 149 all out, 47.4 overs (Paras Khadka 63, Basant Regmi 24 not out; Stuart Whittingham 3-35, Safyaan Sharif 2-21, Alasdair Evans 2-24)
Scotland 153-6, 41.3 overs (Kyle Coetzer 88 not out; Basant Regmi 2-26, Sandeep Lamichhane 2-31)
Player of the match – Kyle Coetzer (Scotland)
Hong Kong beat Afghanistan by 30 runs (DLS Method, target revised to 226 in 46 overs), Bulawayo Athletic Club (Group B)
Hong Kong 241-8, 50 overs (Anshuman Rath 65, Babar Hayat 31, Nizakat Khan 28, Scott McKechnie 24, Shahid Wasif 21; Mujeeb Rahman 3-36, Mohammd Nabi 3-48)
Afghanistan 195-9, 46 overs (Dwlat Zadran 40 not out, Mohammad Nabi 38, Najibul Zadran 32, Javed Ahmadi 22; Ehsan Khan 4-33, Nadeem Ahmed 2-37)
Player of the match – Ehsan Khan (Hong Kong)
The UAE beat the Netherlands by six wickets, Harare Sports Club (Group A)
The Netherlands 176 all out, 46.3 overs (Wesley Barresi 37, Ryan ten Doeschate 34, Scott Edwards 27, Pieter Seelaar 20; Rohan Mustafa 5-26)
UAE 177-4, 40 overs (Chirag Suri 78 not out; Mohamad Usman 36 not out; Ghulam Shabber 27;
Player of the match – Rohan Mustafa (UAE)
West Indies v Ireland, Harare Sports Club, Harare (Group A)
PNG v Netherlands, Old Hararians, Harare (Group A)
Zimbabwe v Hong Kong, Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo (Group B)
Afghanistan v Nepal, Bulawayo Athletic Club, Bulawayo (Group B)