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January 25, 2009
Afghanistan's top order, which completely failed on Saturday, showed much greater stability. Openers Karim Khan and Shafiqullah Shafaq demonstrated excellent shot selection in a stand of 72, but when both fell within the space of three balls, Hong Kong were right back in the game.
Quality spin bowling from Nadeem Ahmed (2 for 23) and Najeeb Ahmed (2 for 35) helped contain some solid middle-order batting, although no-one managed to go on and make a really big score.
Afghanistan's final total of 201 in 49.5 overs looked just about par on a bouncy pitch, but Hong Kong's reply never got going, none of the top eight passing 20. At 90 for 8 the match was petering towards a foregone conclusion, but Munir Dar, who made 49 off 38 balls, including three consecutive sixes off Mohammad Nabi, rekindled the excitement. Nevertheless, when he was bowled by Samiullah Shenwari that appeared to be that. But Nadeem Ahmed at No. 11 continued to attack, smacking 27 from 18 balls before top-edging a hook to Mawais Naziri on the boundary edge.
"In the end it was a good effort, especially from Munir, as he looked like he was desperate to win the game and it could have gone either way," said Hong Kong skipper Tabarak Dar. "He has won us the game at No. 8 before and we bat all the way down to 11 so we always have a chance of winning the game."
"It was a very good game," admitted Kabir Khan, Afghanistan's coach. "There were plenty of nerves but I was very confident in my team and it was a good win for us as it kept alive our hopes in the tournament. I was worried as we didn't have any of our regular bowlers left and Nabi started bowling medium-pace as it is a short ground and it doesn't spin and anything could go for six. The players have started thinking now and they are adjusting to different situations which makes me proud to be with them and proud to be their coach."
Hosts Argentina have it all to do after a second successive defeat, going down to Papua New Guinea by 21 runs at St Albans Club, with Rarua Dikana, who took his second five-wicket haul in as many days, doing all the damage.
Dikana took 5 for 5 in 8.4 overs after PNG had been bowled out for 127. They started well, Vani Vagi Morea's 39 off 35 balls dominating an opening stand of 59. But after he was dismissed the innings fell away, Diego Lord taking 4 for 34.
Argentina slid to 28 for 4, but recovered to 69 for 4 before Dikana ripped through the lower order. "I think there's still a long way to go, but two wins from two games is good," Dikana said. "We still have a lot of improvements to make, especially in our batting, and we need to play better against Uganda. It's so far, so good for us. "I'm enjoying my time with the ball in this tournament. I concentrate on bowling in the right areas and we do a lot of work on this and try and make the batsmen play."
A brilliant 81 not out from Roger Mukasa helped Uganda to a nine-wicket win over Cayman Islands at the Hurlingham Club with more than 23 overs to spare.
Cayman Islands' form has already made them favourites to be one of the two sides relegated, and their batsmen again failed to post anything close to a decent score as they were bowled out for 104.
|Papua New Guinea||2||2||0||0||0||4||+1.245||249/70.5||227/100.0|
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the day from the fifth ODI in Ranchi
Shorter tours don't allow you time to get into form, and domestic cricket isn't demanding enough