ICC Media Release
A devastating second spell from fast bowler Hamid Hassan at the death humbled tournament favourite Ireland in the first round of matches of the Super Eight stage of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier as Afghanistan caused the upset of the event so far, winning by 22 runs at Stan Friedman Oval, Krugersdorp.
In response to Afghanistan's modest total of 218-7 off 50 overs, Ireland started badly and stumbled to 73-5 before Andrew White and Kevin O'Brien shared a 113-run partnership for the sixth wicket to swing the game back in favour of the men in green.
But Hamid's return expedited Ireland's demise as five wickets fell for just 10 runs in 18 balls to give Afghanistan some hope of qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. It now boasts just two points and still has a mountain to climb but after overcoming the previously unbeaten Ireland, Hamid and his team-mates will believe nothing now is impossible.
'It is an unbelievable feeling – it was an amazing game,' said Hamid afterwards.
'I knew that I had to believe in myself and I tried to concentrate on bowling full and straight when I came back on and I felt that I was bowling with a really good rhythm.
'They were playing some cross-batted shots so I knew if I bowled straight I would have a good chance. I am very happy with my performance and I am really pleased with all of the team.
'I couldn't believe it. I was just trying my best to focus on bowling a maiden over but I ended up getting three wickets, so that was unbelievable. Ireland has beaten big teams like Pakistan, so I am very happy that we have managed to beat them. I know that the people back home will be very happy.
'We are going to try our best to win our remaining three games and qualify for the World Cup. After losing three games in a row, we learned a lot about our batting, bowling and fielding and everybody has worked very hard at their games,' he said.
Elsewhere in the Super Eight, they say catches win matches and so surely the opposite is also true. With Scotland having started its match against the Netherlands abysmally, losing its first five wickets with just 59 on the board, things were less than peachy for the defending champion.
But fortune can turn in an instant and when Pieter Seelaar proceeded to drop Jan Stander at deep midwicket when he was on just seven there was a sense that this was the opportunity Scotland had to grasp with both hands.
Much to the chagrin of the Dutch, the 27-year-old Stander went on to make an unbeaten 80 as Scotland recovered from 120-8 to the eminently more respectable 216-8 off 50 overs. The unbeaten 96-run partnership between Stander and John Blain (29 not out) broke a Scottish record for the ninth wicket that had stood since 1908.
Mind you, on what was a good track and fast outfield at WITS University it should not have been a total that worried the strong Dutch batting line-up unduly and for most of the run-chase it looked like the Netherlands would do the business. But, having been missing for most of this tournament so far, the Scots' energy, tenacity, determination and skill with ball in hand returned as they battled hard to restrict their opponents.
Five wickets for Blain, three for Dewald Nel and two for the wily Craig Wright, coupled with some pressure-inspired looseness from the Netherlands' batsmen meant Scotland eventually got home by 26 runs. In the process it has put the Scots' qualification campaign back on something resembling the right track and crucially, it has given their previously waning confidence a welcome boost.
Over in Pretoria, Namibia registered its first points of the Super Eight stage with a convincing victory over the United Arab Emirates and Canada did not seem to miss its injured inspirational all-rounder John Davison too much as it brushed past the challenge of Kenya by seven wickets at Benoni.
The outcome of these results is that the competition is now wide open with two teams on six points, four on four points and two on two points. With three rounds of matches left, there is still no telling which four teams will join the 10 Full Members at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.
Meanwhile in Potchefstroom, four sides are battling it out for ninth to 12th place in the tournament. This contest is significant as the bottom two sides will be relegated to Division 3 of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League while the top two retain spots in Division 2 along with the extra ICC funding that entails.
Bermuda overcame the challenge of Oman at Potchefstroom University despite the men from the Arabian Gulf registering a competitive first-innings score of 254. A century from David Hemp and 91 from Stephen Outerbridge made sure Bermuda got home with eight wickets and 10 balls to spare.
Uganda beat Denmark at Potchefstroom Cricket Ground thanks chiefly to a century from Nehal Bibodi and a fifty from Joel Olweny.
Bermuda, then, will play Uganda in Monday's ninth/10th-place play-off while Oman and Denmark will meet in the 11th/12th-place match.