World Twenty20 Qualifier 2015
Afghanistan secure qualification
The looks on the faces of the players after the match concluded said it all. Unbridled joy on the faces of the Afghanistan team, whilst the Papua New Guinean players looked in the depths of despair.
The game was perhaps lost when the Papua New Guinea captain Jack Vare chose to bat first after winning the toss. The side batting second in the morning matches has won the vast majority of times during this tournament, and PNG got off to an awful start, managing just 20 runs from the powerplay, losing 6 wickets in the process.
At the halfway stage of their innings, PNG were well out of it on just 49-4 as the Afghan bowling attack got right on top of the game. They did manage to score 61 from the final five overs though, with Charles Amini scoring 37 at a run a ball and Norman Vanua smashing 22 from 10 balls.
Their final score was 127-6, and it looked to potentially a tricky chase for Afghanistan when Mohammad Shahzad edged a wide long hop to Jack Vare behind the stumps from the first ball of their run chase.
But in Nawroz Mangal Afghanistan have a player capable of expertly guiding a run chase. He took singles where they needed to be taken, found the gaps in the field, rotated the strike and punished bad deliveries by hitting them to or over the boundary rope. The odd wicket fell, but Afghanistan were always in touch with the required run rate.
Any hopes PNG had of winning the game vanished after the 18th over. With 20 needed from the final three, Najib Zadran and Nawroz Mangal scored 13 from an over that featured two no-balls. From then it was straightforward, though Najib Zadran had to finish it in exuberant fashion by slogging it way over long-on with six needed to win.
Afghanistan will have the fifth place play-off to look forward to on Saturday, whilst Papua New Guinea will go home knowing that once again they've missed out on a place in a global tournament.