Netherlands v Afghanistan, I'Cup, Amstelveen, 3rd day August 26, 2009

Afghanistan clinch low-scoring thriller

Cricinfo staff

Afghanistan 107 (Mangal 41*) and 209 for 9 (Ali 56, Shenwari 25*, Hassan 1*, Schiferli 5-57) beat Netherlands 181 (de Grooth 54, Hassan 4-45, Nabi 4-52) and 132 (Borren 63, Ashraf 4-24, Zadran 4-28) by one wicket

The rise of Afghanistan's cricketing fortunes continues unabated. Four months after they qualified for ODI status in South Africa, they have won their maiden first-class match as an international country by stunning Netherlands, a side far more experienced, with an extremely tense one-wicket win in Amstelveen.

The rain-affected match was so dominated by the ball that it was some surprise the match lasted as long as it did. But not even Edgar Schiferli's five-wicket haul was enough to prevent a gripping, successful run-chase by Afghanistan.

Afghanistan are a country still at war, and are continually reliant on benevolence by charities and organisations such as MCC, who have helped provide equipment, training and pitches to schools in rural communities. They remain highly inexperienced, raw and rusty. But as their barnstorming performance in the World Cup Qualifiers earlier this year suggested, they are never to be underestimated.

The day commenced with Afghanistan requiring 168 runs to win, with eight wickets to spare, on a pitch that had troubled all the batsmen, but Noor Ali and Nowroz Mangal set about the task well. They added 23 to the over-night total, before Mangal (19) was caught by Wesley Barresi while having a go at a wide delivery from Mark Jonkman. The wicket brought Asghar Stanikzai to the crease, who began to build another sturdy partnership with Noor, as Afghanistan began to take control.

The pair put on 49 for the fourth wicket, edging within a hundred of the target, before Schiferli - Man-of-the-Series in April's World Cup Qualifiers tournament - managed to find the edge of Ali's bat, caught behind for a well earned 56.

Stanikzai soon followed - late onto a delivery from Pieter Seelaar which kept low and shot on to hit the base of his middle stump for 26. Mohammed Nabi didn't make much of an impact either, as he miscued a drive off Peter Borren, providing Schiferli with an easy catch. By lunch, the match was hanging in the balance with Afghanistan needing a further 64 with four wickets remaining, having battled back into contention.

With prospects of an exciting afternoon ahead for the crowd in Amstelveen, the visitors restarted by adding a further 18 runs before they lost Raees Ahmadzai, an agriculturally-effective free-swinging batsman, for 26. He edged to Barresi in the slips, who took an outstanding catch to maintain the pressure on Afghanistan.

Netherlands tight bowling attack pinned down Mirwais Ashraf and Samiullah Shenwari, making runs very hard to come by, but they stuck in there, scoring in ones and twos.

With Afghanistan edging nearer their target, Netherlands found the breakthrough they were after, as Ashraf was finally removed by a diving catch by Mudassar Bukhari off Schiferli for 31. This left Shenwari and Shapoor Zadran with the nerve-wracking task of scoring the remaining ten runs, facing the aggressive bowling of a pumped-up Schiferli.

By this stage, even defensive strokes were being cheered by the Afghanistan contingent from the sidelines. And with only six runs required, Zadran (1) failed to offer a shot as Schiferli wrapped him on his back pad to claim his fifth wicket, leaving the match on a knife-edge.

But, in the next over, Shenwari threw his hands at a Bukhari delivery, the ball slashing over the slips for four as Afghanistan snatched an unlikely victory, their first in the Intercontinental Cup, and another significant achievement for a country so new to the international fold.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Khwajah Mustafa on August 28, 2009, 11:06 GMT

    Aslam alikum

    ME and KArdan University cricket team congrudulate the first-class match to teh Afghanistan Cricket team, and inshallah we will win the ODI matches too. Good luck to all.

  • Hameedullah on August 27, 2009, 16:47 GMT

    Hameedullah Noori, Congrats Afghanistan and brave Afghanhista people and their hard working team, as cricket is my 2nd religion and my favourite team is India but hopefully our Afghanistan cricket team even India,

  • Amin on August 27, 2009, 9:53 GMT

    Let me congratulate the Afghan Team and the Afghan Nation for their historic win in their first first-class matches and hope that they keep up the good work for the rest of the tournament. It is like a dream coming true for the Afghans who never believed that one day Afghanistan will also be playing International Cricket. We are grateful for the support provided by the ICC, however we would like to emphasize that lack of standard pitches is a priority issue for the Afghanistan Cricket Committee to address. I would like to particularly congratulate Mr. Nawroz Mangal for his tiredless efforts in giving the required sprit to the team, which resulted all the success for Afghanistan.

    Long live Afghanistan and Afghan Cricketers.

  • Abdul-Samad on August 27, 2009, 7:06 GMT

    Congrates to all Afghans and Afghanistan team, for their outstanding performances , It has been a remarkable victory! Shapoor you are a great bowler despite you bowled less number of overs. Wish you all the best for the upcoming ODI series! Thanks alot from circinfo for their live coverage.

  • peter on August 27, 2009, 5:31 GMT

    Jost think..Holland beat England a few months ago.. Which means that Afghanistan could beat Aussie! Geat stuff and all cricket lovers will be happy.

  • Khushhal on August 27, 2009, 2:48 GMT

    Well done guys and keep it up.

  • Khushhal on August 27, 2009, 0:02 GMT

    First congrats to all afghans and to the fans of cricket. As an afghan i am very happy that i cant express my happiness through words. I want to thank from shapoor zadran, hamid hassan, mirwais ashraf, noor ali, nabi and all the team for their outstanding performance specially in bowling. I cant believe afghanistan won their first first class four day match from netherlands, that has played 3 world cups and having lot more experience than afghanistan.we also played well against zimbabwe xi and i am sure that one day afghanistan would even beat the full members in test matches. the ICC must pay attention towards the poor country and help it making international cricket stadiums in afghanistan. At last i thank from our heroic team and say best of luck to them for their upcoming two ODIs against the netherlands.and special thanks from CRICINFO the site of cricket fans for their ball by ball coverage of the game. Hey friends Cricket is going global. best regards

  • J on August 26, 2009, 23:29 GMT

    Well said, it is a memorable and heart warming moment for all of us, especially for my war ravaged country, Afghanistan. As an Afghan, I thank ICC, Kabir Khan, our cricket team members and here Hen Welder for their support that made this win unforgetable.

    J. Stanekzai

  • Ajmal on August 26, 2009, 21:58 GMT

    Congratulates to all Afghans and Afghanistan team for the fantastic victory. it was a good team effort! I would like to mention that Shapoor Zadran is the best bowler in the side, first innings he bowled 6 ov 7/2. second innings 9 ov 28/4, I am really surprised that Nowroz Mangal did not give him the chance to bowl more! At least Shapoor should have given the chance to bowl 20-25 ov. If Shapoor had given the chance to bowl, the Dutch would not have made a total of 200 +! I really request from captain Nowroz Mangal to pay attention in this regard. wishing you all the very best for the two one day series!

  • sayed on August 26, 2009, 21:12 GMT

    salam to all afghans and then ................. very very excellent performence by the national cricket team i am very pleased as much pleased as i can't compere this historic moment of win, and we all pray to Allah to make stronger then others teams in the world and inshallah once will our hero brink world cup trophy to the country.......... very well done guys, you are the real heros of the county.

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