Five historic clashes involving Afghanistan

Afghanistan bowed out of the Asia Cup in style, with a thrilling tie against India in Dubai. But it was hardly the first time the youngest Test nation was involved in a cliffhanger. ESPNcricinfo looks back at a few other epics involving Afghanistan.

Zimbabwe v Afghanistan, World Cup Qualifiers, Harare, 2018

Afghanistan had lost their opening game to Scotland, and defeat to Zimbabwe looked all but inevitable when Mujeeb Ur Rahman was the ninth man out with Afghanistan still needing 20. But the Zadrans - Dawlat and Shapoor - weren't giving up yet. In a tense half hour where every ball was an event, the pair slowly ate into the target, batting out 49 deliveries to add 17. It was now down to three runs off four deliveries. A mini-conference on the field kept Afghanistan on tenterhooks. Then Brian Vitori slanted one full, drew the edge from Shapoor and Brendon Taylor held on to give Zimbabwe a two-run victory. A packed Harare Sports Club went into delirium. Shapoor, a picture of dejection and angst, had to be literally forced off the field in disappointment. Afghanistan's campaign had been jolted.

West Indies v Afghanistan, 1st ODI, St Lucia, 2017

Rashid Khan had 212 to defend on a sluggish surface. The four previous occasions that he had picked four or more wickets resulted in wins. West Indies were steady at 68 for 2, when Rashid struck off his first two deliveries in the 23rd over to crack the game open. Then he struck off consecutive deliveries in his second over, the 25th, to be on a hat-trick twice during his opening spell that read 4 for 1 at one point. Even the lone run conceded came courtesy a dubious wide call. Rashid scythed through the lower order too, finishing with 7 for 18, the fourth-best haul in ODI history as West Indies were shot out for 149. The 63-run victory for Afghanistan was their first in this format over a Full Member other than Zimbabwe or Bangladesh.

Afghanistan v Scotland, 2015 World Cup, Dunedin

Afghanistan looked down and out when they slumped to 97 for 7. The slide was sparked by Richie Berrington's accurate seam-ups that triggered an epic 5 for 12 collapse after Javed Ahmadi's brisk half-century. Samiullah Shenwari, however, had other ideas. He was consuming too many balls, he was struggling to rotate strike, but buckled down and gave himself time. His calmness and a partnership of 35 for the eighth wicket with Dawlat brought them back. But Dawlat slogged across the line to be caught at mid-off.

Shenwari made his disgust obvious much before the catch had been taken. Then there were calculated blows, frantic running, pure unbreakable belief and some breathtaking six-hitting with Afghanistan needing 38 off 24. Shenwari hit three sixes in four balls and was caught trying to hit a fourth. It eventually boiled down to five off the final over, and four off four balls. Shapoor had dead-batted expertly, but he had to look for the boundary now. Iain Wardlaw went for a yorker, missed and slipped a low full toss down leg. Shapoor picked it behind square and raced off in celebration the moment it crossed the infield. This was a victory for Associate cricket. This was for Afghanistan. A first World Cup win had been achieved.


What do Afghanistan need to do to reach the next level?

Sanjay Manjrekar and Ajit Agarkar believe Afghanistan need to have a couple of better batsmen and seam bowlers to win more consistently

Bangladesh v Afghanistan, Asia Cup 2014, Fatullah

Rashid was still two years away from international cricket, Mujeeb three. Afghanistan were playing only their fourth match against a major team, and in Fatullah, they not only defeated Bangladesh, the Test-playing hosts, but nearly sneaked out a bonus point too. The foundation was laid by a stunning 164-run partnership between Asghar Afghan and Shenwari to lift them from 90 for 5 in the 27th over. After being hauled to 254, they bowled and fielded like Tigers - a name their opponents are fondly referred to by the fans. Shapoor generated enough pace in his first over to rattle the openers. He capped it off with a wicket off the fifth ball. Hamid Hasan, the headband, tattoo and heart-on-his-sleeve bowler, bristled in from the other end and struck vital blows. Bangladesh's chances of revival rested on their captain, Mushfiqur Rahim, and Mominul Haque but once Afghanistan found their way past, there was a sense of despondency in the Bangladesh camp.

Afghanistan v Ireland, 4th ODI, Greater Noida, 2017

Afghanistan were tottering at 142 for 8, before Shafiqullah and Dawlat hauled them to 220. Ireland, trailing 1-2 in the five-match series, had every reason to be happy. Mohammad Nabi spun out the top order with his guile to leave Ireland hanging by a thread. Their problems were compounded when Kevin O'Brien had to retire hurt because of a hamstring injury. Then he returned with Ireland needing 91 with four wickets in hand and counter-attacked at the first sign of Afghanistan's spinners switching off. In a 10-minute passage, O'Brien went berserk, the ferocity of his onslaught offsetting the top-order collapse. Gary Wilson held his own and the series had been tied.

Three other historic Afghanistan wins

Jersey v Afghanistan, final, World Cricket League Division Five, 2008: Chasing 81, Afghanistan won by two wickets.

Afghanistan v USA, World Twenty20 Qualifier, Dubai, 2010: Afghanistan defended 135, to win by 29 runs.

Afghanistan v Ireland, final, World Twenty20 Qualifier, Dubai, 2010: Afghanistan won by eight wickets to qualify for the World T20 in West Indies.

Afghanistan have come a long way from being ravaged by violence to beating some top sides in international cricket regularly. Read the visual narration of their evolution here.