Lucknow, Nov 3 (IANS) Another clinical bowling and batting performance helped Afghanistan score a third successive victory in the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup, the surprise package of the 2023 edition thrashing the Netherlands by seven wickets to maintain their chances of reaching the semifinals.
After bundling out the Netherlands, who elected to bat first, for a paltry 179 in 46.3 overs, Afghanistan chased the target easily, reaching 181/3 with 111 balls remaining.
With this third win on a trot, Afghanistan sit with eight points on the World Cup table and have boosted their chances of a knockout spot.
Rahmat Shah (52) and Hashmatullah Shahidi (56 not out) stood tall for Afghanistan with a stand of 74 runs for the third wicket. Despite, managing to eke out early wickets, the Netherlands weren’t quite in the game due to their modest outing in the first innings.
Chasing 180, Afghanistan’s reliable opening pair of Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran got them off to a characteristic brisk start. Boundaries flowed with ease as the Asian side went at about five-and-a-half an over.
This went on till Gurbaz was taken down the leg side off Logan van Beek. While initially ruled as a wide, the decision was eventually overturned after Scott Edwards took a review.
Rahmat Shah and Ibrahim Zadran then joined forces to ensure that Afghanistan went ahead at a fair pace.
Even though Ibrahim fell to Roelof van der Merwe in the 11th over, Afghanistan were moving towards their target at a steady pace.
Having reached a solid 109 at the 20-over mark, Rahmat and Hashmatullah Shahidi picked up pace. Although Rahmat fell to Saqib Zulfiqar in the 23rd over, Afghanistan went at 6.5 an over between overs 21-25.
Afghanistan eventually cleared the line in the 32nd over.
Earlier, erratic running resulted in the loss of four Dutch batters while the rest of the wickets were snared by Afghanistan spinners. Keeper Ikram Alikhil stood out for his sharp work behind the stumps, being involved in three run-outs, a stumping, and two catches.
Netherlands’s new opening pair of Wesley Barresi and Max O’Dowd didn’t last too long at the crease as the pinpoint accuracy of Mujeeb Ur Rahman accounted for Barresi in the very first over. He trapped the veteran Dutch batter lbw for 3. This was Mujeeb’s 100th ODI wicket.
The Dutch batters were, however, soon among runs. Max O’Dowd and Colin Ackermann were positive as they found the boundaries at regular intervals and took the score to 73 before O’Dowd (42) was sent back by the first run-out caused by some exceptional work from Azmatullah Omarzai, who charged in and induced a direct hit.
The Netherlands scoring rate dropped as the new batters tried to settle in. However, a sequence of run-outs off back-to-back balls derailed their innings.
Sybrand Engelbrecht set off for a sharp single after placing a ball straight to the mid-off. Sharp work from Rashid sent back the set Ackermann (29). Off the very next ball, skipper Scott Edwards tried to sweep Mohammad Nabi, but missed and ended up edging towards the keeper. Ikram Alikhil stopped it with his legs, before running out Edwards for a duck.
Nabi soon had Bas de Leede caught behind for three and the Netherlands had lost half their side at the start of the 21st over.
From 112/5 at the mid-innings mark, the Netherlands failed to build up towards an ending that would get them to a strong total. While Engelbrecht looked the best batter out there, hitting a flurry of boundaries, other batters fell to erratic strokes.
And when Engelbrecht (58) was himself run out while going for a rash single in the 35th over, the Dutch effort was all but over.
Netherlands 179 all out in 46.3 overs (Sybrand Engelbrecht 58, Max O’Dowd 42; Mohammad Nabi 3-23, Noor Ahmad 2-31) lost to Afghanistan 181/3 in 31.2 overs (Rahmat Shah 52, Hashmatullah Shahidi 56 not out, Azmatullah Omarzai 31 not out; Logan van Beek 1-20) by seven wickets.