Shahzad century leads Afghanistan to victory
Afghanistan 232 for 4 (Shahzad 110) beat Netherlands 231 for 7 (Szwarczynski 65, ten Doeschate 98*, Mangal 3-35) by six wickets
Mohammad Shahzad struck his maiden one-day international century to lead Afghanistan to a six-wicket victory against the Netherlands in Amstelveen and level the two-match series at 1-1. Chasing 231, Shahzad ensured that Afghanistan kept pace with the asking-rate and his innings of 110 off 112 balls eventually helped them reach the target with 20 balls to spare.
The Afghanistan chase got off to a slow start - they scored 5 in the first three overs - before Noor Ali gave it some energy. He drove Mudassar Bukhari down the ground and pulled Edgar Schiferli to the midwicket boundary but his acceleration was cut short when he was trapped lbw by Bukhari for 15. Thereafter, Shahzad took over.
Shahzad consistently picked out gaps in the field but was unafraid to take his chances too, driving Schiferli past mid-on before lofting him for a second boundary in the ninth over. He did not allow the bowlers to build pressure by playing very few dot balls, ensuring there was constant rotation of the strike. He reached his 50 off only 57 balls and entered the nineties by slogging Ryan ten Doeschate to the boundary. Another flick past short fine leg off ten Doeschate took Shahzad closer to his hundred and he reached the landmark with a drive down the ground. As he celebrated a wonderful innings, the small crowd gave him a rousing cheer.
They were chanting his name after his century but Shahzad began to cramp - for the second time - and play was halted until Ali came out as a runner. Afghanistan needed 35 off 43 balls at this stage and Samiullah Shenwari, who was batting on 23, carted ten Doeschate over long-off to ease the pressure.
Shahzad did not see Afghanistan to victory, though, for he was caught after slashing Bukhari towards third man. He had left the rest of the batsmen with only 14 to get off 30 balls, a task which Shenwari and Mohammad Nabi completed in the 47th over.
Shahzad's innings overshadowed fine performances from Eric Szwarczynski and ten Doeschate, whose contributions helped revive the Netherlands innings. Both openers had perished after scoring 3 each - Alexei Kervezee inside-edging Hasti Gul on to his stumps, while Bukhari skied a catch to mid-on. Tom de Grooth was pinned on the crease soon after, leaving the hosts precariously placed on 31 for 3.
Szwarczynski scored steadily, making 65 off 84 balls, and added 113 run for the fourth wicket with ten Doeschate before he was lbw to Nowroz Mangal. Netherlands were jolted further when Mangal dismissed Bas Zuiderant for a duck and dismissed Daan van Bunge shortly afterwards to reduce Netherlands to 172 for 6. ten Doeschate, however, was firm at one end and was unlucky to miss out on his century. He remained unbeaten on 98 after having steered his side to a competitive total. Shahzad, though, ensured it wasn't competitive enough.