Afghanistan qualify for World T20 again
Afghanistan have secured their place in the "Super 10" stage of the World Twenty20 after coming through the not-so-cleverly disguised qualifier, rounding off their campaign with victory over Zimbabwe in a winner takes all game in Nagpur today.
Afghan captain Asghar Stanikzai won the toss and chose to bat first in the sort of conditions that would have been welcome yesterday in Dharamsala. The innings got off to a flyer with a typically big hitting innings from Mohammad Shahzad, who smashed 40 from just 23 balls in an opening partnership of 49 in 4.5 overs with Noor Ali Zadran.
Shahzad was dismissed when he reverse swept Sean Williams straight to Zimbabwe skipper Hamilton Masakadza at point. The dismissal sparked a collapse though, as the Afghans lost four wickets for 14 runs in 3.2 overs. Unlike the Afghanistan of the past though, the collapse didn't continue.
Samiullah Shenwari and Mohammad Nabi were able to put on 98 for the fifth wicket to swing the game back the way of the Afghans. Shenwari mistimed an attempted slog and was caught at midwicket for 43, whilst Mohammad Nabi reached his fifty before being run out for 52 as his team looked for quick runs at the death.
The final total for Afghanistan was 186-6 from their 20 overs, with Tinashe Panyangara the pick of the Zimbabwean bowlers, taking 3-32.
The Zimbabwean run chase never really got going, with no batsman even managing to score over 20. Young leg-spinner Rashid Khan was the leading Afghanistan bowler, taking 3-11 as Zimbabwe were bowled out for 127, losing by 59 runs.
Afghanistan will now play in Group 1 of the World Twenty20, where they will take on England, South Africa, Sri Lanka & West Indies. Their first match will be on Thursday at Eden Gardens against Sri Lanka.