Dunedin: Chasing 211 for a win at the University Oval, Afghanistan were in dire straits at 97 for seven, before Shenwari played the innings of his life to help the Mohammad Nabi-led side post their first World Cup victory in their maiden appearance with three balls to spare.
Shenwari stitched crucial partnerships with tailenders and the team got much-needed help from No.10 Hamid Hassan (15 not out) and last-man Shapoor Zadran (12 not out), who stood unbeaten for the final 19 runs of the win. Opener Javed Ahmadi also made a useful contribution up the order for the Afghans with a run-a-ball 51, a knock which was decorated with eight boundaries.
Shenwari during his innings. Pic/ AFP
But the star of the day was Shenwari. He first joined hands with Dawlat Zadran (9) and then Hassan to raise the hopes of an Afghan win before Hassan and Shapoor finished off the chase with three balls to spare. Shenwari played 147 balls and struck seven boundaries and five huge hits over the fence during his career-best knock. Earlier, Majid Haq (31) and Alasdair Evans (28) shared valuable 62 runs for the ninth wicket to lift Scotland to 210, their highest cricket World Cup score in three appearances.
In pursuit of the target, Shenwari added 35 runs with Dawlat (9) to first stabilise the chase and then shared vital 60 runs off 71 balls with Hassan to take his side near the finishing line before perishing in the 47th over. Shenwari though made the match after he clobbered off-spinner Haq for three huge sixes on the leg side to bring the equation down but he fell in fifth ball of the same over. He was caught by Josh Davey at deep midwicket boundary while going for another big hit.
Shenwari's dismissal brought Afghanistan's last pair at the crease and from there on a win looked improbable for the Asian minnows. But Hassan and Shapoor had other plans as they batted sensibly and picked up singles and twos without taking any risks to take Afghanistan home.
One bad ball from Richie Berrington (4/40), Scotland's start bowler of the day, made all the difference. Berrington bowled a wide in the last ball off 49th over and from the resultant extra delivery Shapoor found the fine leg boundary with a cheeky shot to bring down the equation to five runs off the last over. Shapoor then finished off the chase in style hitting Iain Wardlaw to the fine leg fence to sent the Afghan dug out into a frenzy. Besides Berrington, Davey (2/34) and Evans (2/30) picked up two wickets apiece for Scotland.
Earlier asked to bat first on a seam-friendly conditions, Scotland lost wickets at regular intervals to be reduced to 144 for eight at one stage before Haq and Evans batted sensible to register Scotland's highest ninth wicket partnership and also Scotland register their highest score in the World Cup.
For Afghanistan, opening bowling pair of Shapoor (4/38) and Dawlat (3/29) used the bowler-friendly conditions to perfection to share seven wickets between them University Oval. Afghanistan bowlers got going from the start and snared wickets at regular breaks to never really let Scotland settle.
The Scots were themselves to blame as they failed to convert starts into something more substantial. Four of top six fell between 23 and 31, but the resistance from the lower order lifted them over 200. The 200-run mark at least gave the Scottish seam attack belief to defend the total, especially as Afghanistan were bundled out for 63 chasing a similar score when the two sides met last time.
Kyle Coetzer (25), Matt Machan (31), skipper Preston Mommsen (23), Richie Berrington (25) and wicketkeeper Matthew Cross (15) all got starts before giving away their wickets. In a spot of bother at 144, it took a sensible and gritty effort from Haq and Evans to rescue Scotland from dire straits.
Haq and Evans took the fight to the opposition bowlers and played cautiously to help Scotland bat out the entire 50 overs and in the process notch up their highest World Cup score, bettering 186 runs scored against South Africa in 2007 edition of the tournament The ninth-wicket partnership between lasted almost 13 overs, before its innings ended off the last ball of the final over.
Scotland: 210 all out in 50 overs (Matt Machan 31, Majid Haq 31; Shapoor Zadran 4/38, Dawlat Zadran 3/29)
Afghanistan: 211/9 in 49.3 overs (Javed Ahmadi, 51, Samiullah Shenwari 96, Hamid Hassan 15 not out, Zadran 12 not out; Richie Berrington 4-40).
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