Afghans win a close one
Afghanistan have picked up their first win in official Twenty20 internationals by beating Canada in Colombo this morning, but it was a close run thing, with victory only coming from the penultimate delivery after a few lusty blows from the ever reliable Mohammad Nabi.
Canadian captain Ashish Bagai won the toss and chose to bat first, and it was him who provided the backbone to the Canada innings, scoring 53 from 42 balls, his first Twenty20 fifty. Most of the Afghanistan bowlers bowled tidily, keeping Canada to 140-6 from their 20 overs. Hameed Hasan was the pick of the bunch with 2-27 from his four overs.
Afghanistan got their reply off to a good start with an opening partnership of 66 between Karim Sadiq and Noor Ali, which ended when Sadiq was caught for 42. Noor Ali stayed in for another five overs before Rizwan Cheema trapped him lbw for 31.
Harvir Baidwan took two quick wickets soon afterwards, to swing the game Canada's way. The Afghans needed 21 from the last two overs, and the 19th over started with a single and a leg bye to leave them needing 19 from 10 balls. But Mohammad Nabi is never one to give up easily, and he hit three fours from the last four balls of the over to swing the game back to Afghanistan, now needing just seven from the last over.
Captain Nowroz Mangal took a single to get Nabi back on strike, but he was caught by Shaheed Keshvani to swing the game back slightly towards Canada, with Afghanistan now needing six from the last four balls. Samiullah Shenwari held his nerve, scoring two from each of his first two balls before hitting his third to the boundary for four to secure the five wicket win.
In the other match of the day, Sri Lanka A beat Ireland by five wickets to secure the tournament win. It would appear that Net Run Rate is not being used in any official capacity for this tournament, but if it was, Ireland would finish second, Canada third and Afghanistan last.
These two teams now travel to the UAE for the World Twenty20 Qualifier, where they are drawn in separate groups. They both play a warm-up game on Sunday at Sharjah, with Canada playing Ireland and Afghanistan taking on a Sharjah XI.