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Afghanistan prepare for semis with big win over Namibia

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'We played positive cricket' - Rashid Khan (1:11)

Afghanistan legspinner Rashid Khan praises his team's performance after their dominating 64-run win against Namibia in Desert T20 Challenge (1:11)

Afghanistan 167 for 6 (Shenwari 35, Mangal 32, Scholtz 3-17) beat Namibia 103 (Rashid 3-4) by 64 runs
Scorecard

The de facto home side Afghanistan sauntered past Namibia by 64 runs for their third win in three games in Group A at the Desert T20 Challenge. Afghanistan, the highest-seeded team, casually accumulated 167 for 6 in their 20 overs against the lowest-ranked side in the competition. Four batsmen crossed 30 but not 35, starting with Mohammad Shahzad (31) and former captain Nawroz Mangal (32) who added 56 for the first wicket in breezy fashion.

In the chase, Louis van der Westhuizen, who struck a bruising half-century against Ireland, was out second ball of the innings. By the end of the third over, Namibia were reduced to 7 for 4. Rarely does Afghanistan's excellence keep the home fans quiet, but about 3000 of them hardly made a peep throughout the rest of the innings as if bored by the ease of the impending victory. Jan Frylinck and Gerrie Snyman added 54 runs for the seventh wicket to lift Namibia from 38 for 6.

As he has done so many times this tournament, Rashid Khan roused the fans out of their chairs. Captain Asghar Stanikzai abstained from utilising his biggest wicket threat until the 16th over. Rashid trapped Frylinck in front, playing across the line, to break the stand at the start of the 18th over. Left-arm spinner Amir Hamza, who dismissed van der Westhuizen with the new ball, came back in the 19th to have Snyman stumped off the last ball of the over. Rashid then made it a team hat-trick by snuffing out the tail on the first two balls of the 20th over to end with figures of 3 for 4 in 2.2 overs.

Nawroz not done yet

Nawroz Mangal had reportedly retired at the start of the year to take up a role as Afghanistan's chief national selector. However, he'd been training and warming up with the squad all week in Abu Dhabi. With Afghanistan already having clinched a semi-final berth, he was inserted into the starting XI against Namibia and walked out with Mohammad Shahzad to open the batting.

It was later communicated by the Afghanistan team management that Nawroz was being given a "farewell series" at this event. Shahzad, usually Afghanistan's most aggressive player with the bat, let Nawroz take the reins in their stand. In a pressure-free environment, Nawroz played some delightful strokes through the off side among his three fours and a six to please the crowd before exiting to warm applause.

Najibullah's not out streak ends… sort of

"Half Man, Half Amazing" Najibullah Zadran had come into this match having been not out in his last six Twenty20 innings. The last time he finished without an asterisk next to his name was against England in the 2016 World T20 when he was run-out by Chris Jordan for 14. In Afghanistan's next match at the tournament, he scored 48 not out to be named Man of the Match in their victory over West Indies.

His spectacular one-handed sliced six against UAE on Tuesday night came as part of a 11 not out, making it 174 runs he'd scored in T20Is since being dismissed. Promoted to no. 4 on Thursday afternoon, he made three before he was deceived by left-arm spinner Bernard Scholtz and stumped, ending his scoring streak between dismissals at 177 in Twenty20 matches. However, since Namibia doesn't have T20I status, this match didn't either, meaning Najibullah's not-out streak in T20Is remains alive and kicking at 174 off 101 balls.