Afghan lads stun Aussies, blow Group B wide open

The Afghan colts scored a historic 36-run win, their first against Australia at any level.

By James Jose

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Published: Tue 18 Feb 2014, 11:45 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:10 PM

Hashmatullah Shaidi plays a shot. — KT photo by Shoaib Anwer

A loss against Bangladesh in their tournament opener notwithstanding, the Afghanistan Under-19, inspired by their senior team’s heroics, pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup by defeating Australia at the Shaikh Zayed International Cricket Stadium’s Nursery Oval 2 on Monday.

The Afghan colts scored a historic 36-run win, their first against Australia at any level. The win also blew Group B wide open with three teams — Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Australia fighting for the two qualification spots.

Bangladesh top the Group with four points after defeating basement dwellers Namibia by 52 runs at the Nursery Oval 1. Australia, despite the loss, find themselves in second with two points, largely due to a better run rate. Afghanistan lived to fight another day after the shock win against the Australians. Afghanistan too have two points.

This leaves the last round of group matches in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, tantalisingly poised. Australia take on Bangladesh, while Afghanistan meet Namibia. If Australia beat Bangladesh and Afghanistan defeat Namibia, the three will be tied on three points and run rate will come into play. The stars of the win were opener Mohammad Mujtaba, who stroked a 102-ball 75 with five boundaries and a two sixes and medium pacer Abdullah Adil, who snapped up four for 45.

Riding on half-centuries from left-hander Mohammad Mujtaba, Ihsanullah and Hasmatullah Shaidi, Afghanistan posted a competitive 253. They could have added more to that total if not for a collapse where they lost four quick wickets in three overs for just nine runs. Afghanistan recovered from an early setback of losing opener Usman Ghani in the opening over by cruising to 128 in the 28th over. Mujtaba and Ihsanullah were involved in the most crucial partnership of the match by putting on 126 for the second wicket.

After Ihsanullah departed, having scored 63 from 78 balls with eight boundaries, Mujtaba then added 34 for the third wicket. Mujtaba was out on 75 after which Hashmatullah Shaidi put together 41 runs for the fifth wicket with captain Nasir Ahmadzai. Shaidi scored 57 from 64 balls with seven boundaries. Cameron Valente picked up three for 59, while James Bazley, who came up with an all-round show, took three for 69.

Medium pacer Abdullah Adil then rocked the Aussie middle order to effectively snuff out the chase. Adil took four for 45, while Afghanistan ploy of opening the bowling with a spinner worked as left-arm spinner Sharafuddin Sharaf picked three for 55 as Australia were all out for 217 in 48 overs.

Queenslander James Bazley top scored with an unbeaten 54 from 36 balls with four boundaries and four sixes. Opener Jaron Morgan made 47, while Jake Doran scored 45. Damien Mortimer made 43.

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