Netherlands v Afghanistan, I'Cup, Amstelveen, 2nd day August 25, 2009

Afghanistan faced with mountain to climb

Cricinfo staff

Afghanistan 107 and 39 for 2 (Ali 25*, Mangal 7*) require a further 168 runs to beat Netherlands 181 and 132 (Borren 63, Ashraf 4-24, Zadran 4-28)

Peter Borren led Netherlands with a determined knock of 63 on a rain-affected second day at Amstelveen, leaving Afghanistan with an uphill struggle in their ICC Intercontinental Cup clash. Borren's half century helped to set Afghanistan a challenging second-innings target of 207, on a bowler's dream pitch, despite four-wicket hauls from Shapoor Zadran and Mirwais Ashraf.

In reply, Afghanistan posted 39 for 2 at stumps, with Edgar Schiferli taking both the wickets of Ahmed Shah (4) and Mohammed Shahzad (1). This left Noor Ali at the crease with 25 and Nowroz Mangal unbeaten on 7. The visitors require another 168 runs with eight wickets to spare, on a surface that has so far favoured the bowlers.

Rain halted Netherlands' progress in the morning however, when only four overs were bowled before lunch. The first ball of the day did get Afghanistan off to a flyer though, as Zadran had Nick Statham out leg-before, a disappointing way in which to end his innings having battled so hard first time round for 35.

Once the covers were removed again, Zadran continued to dismantle the Netherlands top order, taking three wickets in quick succession. Bas Zuiderent was trapped in front for nine and both Daan van Bunge and Tom de Grooth were bowled with second-ball ducks, which left Netherlands struggling on 22 for 4.

Zadran's destructive spell brought Borren to the batsman's graveyard, where a captain's innings was desperately required to steady the ship. This is precisely what followed, as he built a partnership of 41 with Wesley Barresi before the rain enforced an early tea interval.

The pair added a further 20 runs before the wickets began to tumble once more. Barresi was bowled for 34 by the debutant Ashraf with an off-cutter which moved significantly. Ashraf then sent Atse Buurman straight back to the pavilion having faced two deliveries, with the added humiliation of watching his off stump flying from the ground. Hamid Hassan joined in soon after, bowling Mudassar Bukhari without scoring, with the board displaying 84 for 7.

Borren stuck around in difficult conditions; some balls reared up at batsmen, while others scuttled along the pitch. He scored a well-earned 63 before getting stumped by Shahzad off a flighted delivery from Mohammed Nabi.

Without the captain's presence at the crease, the Netherlands tail had very little hope of adding many more, and Ashraf cleaned up Schiferli (16) and Pieter Seelaar (2) to claim his fourth wicket of the innings.

However, that the home side reached the heights of 132 has managed to set their inexperienced opponents a total comfortably higher than the three innings so far, and the onus is on their middle-order to produce something special.