Amazing batting from Karim Sadiq and Mohammad Shahzad helped Afghanistan to a massive 9-wicket win against Scotland in the first ODI. The two top-order batsmen scored centuries as Afghanistan had no trouble in overcoming Scotland’s score of 224-9 in 50 overs.
Scotland won the toss and elected to bat, hoping for a big total that would put pressure on the Afghan batsmen. However, they were immediately under pressure themselves as Shapoor Zardan and Hamid Hassan reduced Scotland to 24-3.
Opener Fraser Watts and Gavin Hamilton, though, steadied things for Scotland, adding 68 runs for the 4thwicket. But Scotland lost regular wickets from then on, with Mirwais Ashraf, Asghar Stanikzai and Samiullah Shenwari chipping in with wickets, as the Scots stumbled to 180-9 after 44.4 overs.
At this point, a score of under 200 was likely, but in the closing overs, Afghanistan, or to be more precise, Shapoor Zardan completely lost the plot. A huge 21 runs came off the final over bowled by Zardan, which included two no-balls, as Scotland reached a respectable 224-9 in their 50 overs. Fraser Watts was the top-scorer for Scotland with 55, while Shapoor Zardan took the most wickets, 3, though he conceded 69 runs, mainly in part to that dreadful final over.
The chase started badly for Afghanistan as Noor Ali was trapped lbw for just 6. And the very next ball probably decided the match: Shahzad, first ball he faced, went for a big shot but was dropped by Dewald Nel at mid-on.
After that lucky escape, Shahzad – and Karim Sadiq – never looked back, as they hammered the Scottish bowlers all around the ground in Ayr. At the 7 over mark, Afghanistan had already raced to 65-1.
The carnage continued throughout the innings. It didn’t look like the two batsmen were playing against the Scotland bowlers, but it appeared they were playing against each other, seeing who can hit the most boundaries and who can get to their milestones first!
Well, Shahzad got his 50 first, coming up after just 39 ball; Sadiq got his 50 two overs later, his arriving at a more sedate 57 balls. Anyway, they carried on as they did, hitting sixes, driving airily and even reverse-sweeping the ball for four.
As with the 50, Shahzad got to his 100 first, hitting 15 fours as he got to the landmark off just 72 balls. Opener Sadiq got to his 100 off 102 ball, and in his end total of 114 not out, he smashed 11 fours and 3 sixes.
The punishment for Scotland finally ended in the 31st over, as Afghanistan took a 1-0 series lead, with the second and final game starting tomorrow.
When the game finished, Shahzad and Sadiq got lifted onto the shoulders of the jubilant Afghan fans. They richly deserve all the praise and attention they get.
Shortthirdman, as he is known, has been closely following Afghanistan cricket since April 2009. He also has a blog, called Short Third Man, which is about all things cricket.