Cricket World Cup 2023: Afghanistan gains two crucial points over Netherlands

Afghanistan. Image credit: UNI

#CricketWorldCup2023, #Afghanistan, #Netherlands

IBNS: In Cricket World Cup 2023, Afghanistan managed to gain two crucial points with an emphatic win over the Netherlands here on Friday.

Rahmat Shah (52) and Hashmatullah Shahidi (56*) stood tall for Afghanistan with a 74-run stand 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.

Photo courtesy: UNIPhoto courtesy: UNI

Erratic running resulted in the loss of four Dutch batsmen 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.

With this third win on the trot, Afghanistan sit with eight points on the World Cup table and have boosted their chances of a knockout spot.

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.

Photo courtesy: UNIPhoto courtesy: UNI

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.

Scott Edwards called it right at the toss and elected to bat first. Afghanistan skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi also said that he too would’ve liked to bat on the wicket.

For the Dutch, Vikramjit Singh and Shariz Ahmad were out, with Roelof van der Merwe and Saqib Zulfiqar coming in their place. Wesley Barresi opened the innings in place of Vikramjit. For Afghanistan, Naveen-ul-Haq missed out as Noor Ahmad entered the side, opting for a four-pronged spin attack.

Netherland’s new opening pair 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 batsmen were, however, soon among runs. Max O’Dowd and Colin Ackermann were positive as they found the boundaries at regular intervals. A number of their boundaries also came out of fine touches down the leg side or edges which safely travelled behind the wicket. The duo were already going over six an over at the end of the first Powerplay.

Photo courtesy: UNIPhoto courtesy: UNI

Afghanistan’s concerns were further exacerbated when Rashid Khan walked off the pitch with an injury concern in the fifth over. However, the all-rounder returned to the field a few overs later.

The Dutch pair were going steady when a superb throw from the deep accounted for O’Dowd (42). The ball drifted to the batter’s leg, who placed it towards the fine leg region. The batsmen took off with an easy two in mind, but O’Dowd’s return was impeded by some exceptional work from Azmatullah Omarzai, who charged in and induced a direct hit.

The Netherlands scoring rate dropped as the new batsmen 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.

Photo courtesy: UNIPhoto courtesy: UNI

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 was himself run out while going for a rash single in the 35th over, the Dutch effort was all but over.