Afghanistan 143 for 4 (Stanikzai 55*, Shahzad 37, Tikolo 1-7) beat Kenya 139 (Mishra 32, Ouma 31*, Shenwari 3-29, Dawlatzai 2-37) by six wickets
Afghanistan levelled the ODI series with Kenya in Nairobi to set-up a winner-take-all match on Monday. In another low-scoring game, Afghanistan had little trouble chasing a small Kenyan total this time, winning by six wickets with a huge 23 overs remaining.
Kenya again won the toss and elected to bat, knowing they wouldn’t have to face Afghanistan speedster Hamid Hassan, who has a potential fracture to a finger on his left-hand. To counter Hamid’s absence, spinner Mohammad Nabi opened the bowling, and it paid dividends as he removed David Obuya for just 11. Regular wickets fell from this point as Kenya failed to build any momentum into their innings.
Extracting plenty of turn, Samiullah Shenwari cut through Kenya’s fragile middle-order as he finished with excellent figures of 3-29 from 10 overs. Two run-outs brought the home side’s innings to a sudden halt with Kenya only managing 139 from 41 overs.
Afghanistan, though, knew they couldn’t take the chase lightly, considering their poor attempt of overhauling Kenya’s total of 180 on Thursday. The early signs appeared to show that there would be similar problems chasing, as Karim Sadiq and Nowroz Mangal both fell early. As well as those two wickets, Noor Ali had to retire hurt.
However, Mohammad Shahzad alongside Asghar Stanikzai calmed Afghan nerves as they put on a pressure-releasing 53 for the fourth wicket. Shahzad fell for 37 but first Mirwais Ashraf and then Mohammad Nabi helped Stanikzai edge Afghanistan nearer the total.
The win was sealed when Nabi hit three successive fours to take Afghanistan to a crucial win with six wickets in hand. Stanikzai top-scored with an unbeaten 55, hitting 6 fours and three sixes.
The easy victory was even more impressive as Afghanistan had to cope without their lead bowler, Hamid Hassan. They will now look to record a series win on Monday.
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.