UAE v Afghanistan, World Twenty20 Qualifiers, Super Four February 13, 2010

Afghanistan pip UAE to qualify for World Twenty20

Cricinfo staff

Afghanistan 101 for 6 (Noor Ali 38*, Stanikzai 26, Silva 2-14, Fayyaz 2-14) beat UAE 100 for 9 (Saqib 24, Nabi 3-17, Mirwais 2-15) by 4 wickets

With their fairytale mission resting on the game, Afghanistan held their nerve to overcome a tenacious UAE side in a low-scoring thriller and take their place in the World Twenty20 that starts in May.

Rarely has an Associate competition inspired so much emotion as people from around the world willed Afghanistan on through the tournament. Their defeat to the Netherlands yesterday brought back bitter memories of Afghanistan's near-miss on qualification for the 50-over World Cup, but today there was no mistake.

Their win was crafted on a number of useful contributions, rather than an outstanding individual but on a tired surface Noor Ali's unbeaten 38, to guide his side home in a tense run chase, must be one of the most important innings in Afghanistan's history.

Asked to field first by home captain Khuuram Khan in front of a big crowd, Afghanistan settled into the contest immediately. The new-ball pair of Mirwais Ashraf and Shapoor Zadran have been important in giving Afghanistan control early and unlike yesterday, when they bowed under the pressure of the Netherlands' batsmen, the pair responded well. Within four overs UAE were restricted to 11 for 3, with Ashraf claiming two wickets and Zadran getting the important scalp of Afran Haider, who after a couple of dot balls slashed one straight down the throat of third man.

UAE have proved throughout the tournament that they are a resilient side and Abdul Rahman and Saqib Ali, who played so well against Ireland, set about undoing the early damage with 42-run stand. Having taken the score to 53 for 3 in just over 10 overs, Rahman got a grubber from Mohammed Nabi, that scuttled along the ground from a short length, straight into middle stump. Ali fell two overs later, having made a patient 24 and it was left to Naeemuddin Aslam to shepherd as many as he could from the tail. Nabi and Hamid Hassan, Afghanistan's specialist death bowler, prevented any hopes UAE may have had of pushing beyond 100 with tight and penetrating bowling. Nabi ended with 3 for 17 and Hassan 2 for 23, as UAE posted what looked to be a below-par total.

At this stage, Afghanistan would have backed themselves to coast home but they lost two wickets within the first four overs with only 16 on the board. Karim Sadiq and Mohammad Shahzad were both bowled by Shadeep Silva from deliveries that kept low and it was left to captain Nowroz Mangal to join Noor Ali to try and steady the ship. The pair carefully recovered the situation, running hard to add 32 important runs in six overs. When Mangal was out, trying to slog Fayyaz Ahmed over long on, for 14, his side needed 53 in 10 overs and the game was Afghanistan's to lose.

Ali continued to work the ball around well and found a willing partner in Asghar Stanikzai. They calmly pushed the score to 88, before Stanikzai needlessly tried to smash Ahmed over long off and was caught. It set nerves fluttering but in the 19th over, with 13 still needed, Ali swatted a short ball through midwicket for his only boundary of the innings, and followed it up with a two and another single. Nabi was bowled, deceived by a slower ball, but Samiullah Shenwari swept his first ball for four to leave just one needed from the final over.

Fittingly, it was Ali who secured the winning moment, chipping over mid off to cue celebrations that will continue all the way to the Caribbean.

He was named man of the match and is now eagerly looking forward to testing his skills against the top sides. "It has always been our dream to qualify and play in a World Cup. We missed out on the 50-over Cricket World Cup last year, so I am very happy we will play in the Twenty20 event," he said. "It is our dream to play against the best teams and have the chance to play against fast bowlers like Dale Steyn or Ishant Sharma. We will prepare ourselves very well for this event and we need to keep on getting better ahead of the World Twenty20."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Adhisha on February 14, 2010, 7:11 GMT

    Well done Afghanistan you have proven your abilities to the world. Im happy to see you guys in this world cup and wich you guys best of luck

  • Zain on February 13, 2010, 22:07 GMT

    Congrats Afghanistan,

    This is a friendly message from a neighbor from Pakistan. I wish all the best to Afghanistan on this fantastic achievement and hope they can continue this winning habit all the way across globe, Inshallah

    Muhammad Zain Ul Haq

  • Dummy4 on February 13, 2010, 20:10 GMT

    Congratulation, good effort from afgan young guys. past four five years they had lot of problems in country but they overtook all from this wonderful move.

    This is your foundation only you have build your complete home in future. I hope u will qualify ODI world cup also.

  • Shams on February 13, 2010, 16:26 GMT

    Congrates to Afghans as it is great achievement for all the them and i am very disappointed by the thinking of Mr. Armour who said it was a afghan tournament after the great show from afghanistan... because we know that we can (and we are) criticize(ing) ICC for some bad decisions, but thinking that they bring afghanistan up the charts are not some thing which should be allowed morally..frankly speaking i think Mr. Armour doesn't have problem with ICC but with Afghanistan. He should contact the statistics that on which path afghanistan achieved this place.

  • Dummy4 on February 13, 2010, 16:21 GMT

    Wow.. Convey my best wishes to them... :)... Anyway Our Indian team, going to grow all of their players... ha ha..

  • Dummy4 on February 13, 2010, 15:53 GMT

    well done afghanistan, i am proud to be an afghan, it really helped afghanistan to be recognized in the world, since the qualifying matches have been started i am following it and enjoying it, even i left college and computer course for my team to support them. today i am very happy, when the qualifying matches started i promised to my friend that if afghanistan qualifies i will buy chicken for you and that is here that they won and tomorrow i will buy chicken for my friend and i hope my team perform well in carbean too and come back victorious. i appreciate all those who are the lovers of afghan team, and i thank them a lot for their comments.long live afghanistan.

  • Dummy4 on February 13, 2010, 15:41 GMT

    It is wonderful achievement. I think being a Sri Lankan, we know the feeling of being associate side and a top league side. I think Afghans will shock a few in the tournament

  • Shehzad on February 13, 2010, 15:16 GMT

    ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2010 design for afganistan to attarct afgans.come in sports .so according to icc req teams lost thier matches vs tiny afgan team beat ,irland,kenya, ire beat netherlands bcz afgan wants easy team in the finals .shame for icc like FIFA .some years ago in asia cup fifa support iraq and iraq amazingly beat super teams one by one.

  • Dummy4 on February 13, 2010, 14:58 GMT

    Its really a good news for Afghanistan. Well done . best wishes for world cup T20.

  • Dummy4 on February 13, 2010, 14:55 GMT

    Congratulations Afghanistan !! We are all behind you . Rock the world .

    Pakistan loves you too !!

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