Afghanistan prevail in a thriller; easy win for Nepal
Hamid Hasan’s five-wicket haul triggered a late-innings collapse that derailed Malaysia’s chase, as Afghanistan sneaked home by one run at Hubara. Afghanistan’s top order laid a strong foundation after they won the toss, but the rest of the batsmen could not drive home the advantage. Karim Sadiq started well with a run-a-ball 46, and Asghar Stanikzai lent good support to lift the score to 82 for 2, and later 117 for 3, in good time. Thereafter, the lower order lost the plot and it was left to Raees Ahmadzai to hold things together with a 59-ball 64, as Afghanistan posted 236 for 9. Malaysia’s captain Suhan Kumar anchored the chase with 61, and significant contributions from the top order, barring opener Rakesh Madhavan, put their side on course, at 219 for 4. Hasan then took over, as three wickets fell without the addition of a run. Malaysia pressed the panic button, and sensing an opportunity, Afghanistan closed in on the kill. A ten-run stand for the final wicket nearly achieved the impossible, before Nowroz Mangal removed number 11 Sharulnizam Yusof to give Afghanistan victory by the slimmest of margins.
Nepal’s openers made short work of Singapore’s score of 216, to take their team to a comfortable seven-wicket win. Singapore’s batsmen failed to capitalize on their starts after winning the toss, as the top four all fell for scores between 30 and 40. Nepal turned in a tidy bowling effort to stifle the progress, and the lower order responded by falling to a spate of run outs, five in all. Mahesh Chettri and Anil Mandal got the chase off to a solid start, adding 135 in 26.5 overs. Mandal was the more adventurous of the two, hitting seven fours and a six in his 93-ball 83. Chettri made 87 off 111 balls, and the only sore point for Nepal was that neither opener could reach three figures, as the target was reached in the 44th over.
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo