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Mostly miserly

No flash: Amir Hamza's spell against West Indies in the World T20 was remarkable without being flamboyant AFP

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Amir Hamza
1 for 9 v West Indies
World T20, Nagpur

With his side engaged in a dogfight, trying to defend 123 on a slow wicket, left-arm spinner Hamza took the new ball, conceded just two runs in his first two overs, and took the wicket of Evin Lewis in the process. His only bad delivery resulted in a swipe by Andre Fletcher to the off-side boundary in the fifth over. Hamza's final over, the 11th of the innings, yielded three singles. In all, he bowled 17 dots in his 24 deliveries. It wasn't the flashiest spell, but his economy proved vital in the final result, a six-run win over the eventual world champions.

Mohammad Nabi
2 for 16 v Bangladesh
second ODI, Mirpur

After Afghanistan had come within two shots of beating the hosts in the series opener three days earlier, Nabi was motivated to make sure they wouldn't fall short in the second match. The offspinning allrounder took the new ball and set the tone with a miserly three-over spell that conceded just seven runs. However, it was his third spell that was most pivotal. Returning to the attack in the 32nd over, he went for just four runs and took two wickets - those of Shakib Al Hasan and Mashrafe Mortaza - in his final five overs. Bangladesh were held to 208, setting up a two-wicket win for Afghanistan to level the series.

Munis Ansari
3 for 37 v Ireland
World T20, Dharamsala

Ansari's figures might not look special on paper, but the slingy fast bowler's spell shifted the momentum Oman's way late in the Ireland innings, to set up the biggest upset of the opening round of the World T20. After conceding 15 runs in a loose first over, Ansari was held back until the death to complete his quota. The strategy was justified when he claimed Niall O'Brien with his first ball back, in the 16th, and then ended the over by yorking Gary Wilson. He also won the battle with Ireland's power-hitting trump card, flummoxing Kevin O'Brien with a perfectly placed ball in the blockhole in the final over of the innings.

Paul van Meekeren
4 for 11 v Ireland
World T20, Dharamsala

That his spell came in a rain-affected match reduced to six overs a side does little to cheapen the extraordinary effort van Meekeren produced to send Ireland home winless from the World T20. Set a target of 60, Ireland were favourites at the halfway stage, and the scales were weighted heavily in their favour after they reached 28 for 1 after two overs. But the tall right-arm quick entered at the start of the third to spark Ireland's collapse. He removed Kevin O'Brien with his second ball, courtesy a brilliant diving catch at the midwicket boundary, and then made it two in two by cramping Paul Stirling for space. Roelof van der Merwe also struck twice in the fourth over, but with only one bowler allowed to bowl a second over, captain Peter Borren tossed van Meekeren the ball to defend 20 off the final six balls, and had his faith rewarded when Max Sorensen and George Dockrell were bowled with a pair of full, straight deliveries to clinch the match.

Rashid Khan
3 for 11 v Zimbabwe
World T20, Nagpur

By March, Afghanistan had Zimbabwe's number after having defeated them in back-to-back ODI series while also sweeping four straight T20Is. However, they still had to prove they could beat Zimbabwe in tournament play, and the World T20 provided them that chance. They showed few nerves in the first innings, posting a commanding 186 for 6. Teenage legspinner Rashid then stamped Afghanistan's authority on the match. He entered at the conclusion of the Powerplay and took just two balls to dismiss Vusi Sibanda. He returned in the 12th to ice the game by getting rid of Sean Williams and Elton Chigumbura to help Afghanistan march into the main draw.

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