Afghanistan triumph in last-ball finish
It went down to the wire at Amstelveen as Afghanistan beat Kenya by one wicket off the final ball. Six were needed off the last over and there was further drama as Afghanistan lost their ninth wicket off the penultimate ball, but Shapoor Zadran hit the winning run to seal the game.
Collins Obuya and Thomas Odoyo came good for Kenya, hitting half-centuries to take the score to 233. The captain Maurice Ouma made a patient 40 off 70 balls to help Kenya recover from a shaky 14 for 2. Obuya and Rakep Patel then added 72 for the fourth wicket before Patel was caught by Noor Ali, running forward from the boundary. Obuya made 60 before he was dismissed in the 43rd over, caught by the keeper Mohammad Shahzad off a top edge. Odoyo made a cameo unbeaten 52 off 33 balls, hitting five fours and two sixes to give the innings a late surge. Hassan was the main wicket-taker with 3 for 32.
Afghanistan didn't get off to the best of starts, losing three for 51 by the 11th over as the Odhiambos - Nelson and Nehemiah - took early wickets. Samiullah Shenwari then steadied the chase with a patient half-century, adding 72 with Azghar Stanikzai. Shem Ngoche got the breakthrough when Stanikzai edged to the keeper for 24. Afghanistan however lost the plot when they lost two more wickets in quick succession. Shenwari continued the repair work till the 41st over, before he was dismissed for 82, caught by Ouma down the leg side. Mohammad Nabi and Khaliq Dad took Afghanistan closer but Kenya hit back when Nabi's big hit towards cow corner was taken by Patel inches off the rope.
Hassan joined Dad in the 48th over and the pair almost took Afghanistan home, but Hassan succumbed to the pressure of the fielders crowding the infield, when the scores were level. The No.11 Zadran swept Jimmy Kamande past the fielders and that sparked big celebrations.
Ouma, whose performance with bat and in the field won him the Man-of-the-Match award, was disappointed with the final result, but took heart from the way his team performed. "It's very disappointing to lose a game like that especially as we gave it our all but there were plenty of positives to take from it from our side," he said. "Collins Obuya and Thomas Odoyo batted really well and it was great to see them play so well, two senior players really leading from the front. Nehemiah Odhiambo bowled well and that is what we want from him as, together with Thomas, he is the spearhead of our attack.
"In the end it was the little errors here and there that cost us and another defeat is not nice to take but there are three games left for us in this tournament and if we can continue to improve like we did today then we will be able to take plenty away from this tournament after all," Ouma said.
Ireland continued to show why they are rated the best of the Associates by picking up their third straight victory, a five-wicket win over Scotland in a low-scoring encounter in Voorburg. Kevin O'Brien was the hero for Ireland, dragging them over the finish line after the chase of 118 was floundering at 65 for 5, in the process going past 1000 ODI runs.
O'Brien top scored with a patient, unbeaten 41 and was helped by opener Paul Stirling's brisk 37 but the other four batsmen in the top six managed only three runs between them. Scotland's hopes of remaining undefeated were dashed by an unbroken 55-run stand between O'Brien and John Mooney which took Ireland home in the 35th over.
The victory was set up by the bowlers. Scotland's top order turned in a limp performance to be at 40 for 5 in the 20th over before Neil McCallum and wicketkeeper Dougie Lockhart put on 59 runs for the sixth wicket to at least ensure a three-figure target. McCallum battled for more than two hours but once he became the seventh Scotland wicket, his side folded in a hurry. There was no one stand-out bowler for Ireland, with Trent Johnston and Nigel Jones bagging two wickets each while three others captured one apiece.
O'Brien, who won the Man-of-the-Match award, was delighted with his landmark. "It is obviously an achievement. They're all hard-fought runs against some very good teams around the world. It is a good one to know and hopefully I can just build on it for the future for the next couple of years, including the ICC Cricket World Cup next year in the subcontinent."
Gordon Drummond, the losing captain admitted the defeat was a reality check for his side and hoped to lift in the upcoming match. He said: "We knew it was a difficult wicket to bat on. I think 150 or 160 would have been an interesting chase as there would have been more pressure on the batsmen to score quicker," Drummond said.
"We got five wickets but once the ball got softer, batting became much easier. Also, the bowlers didn't bowl consistently and missed the right areas otherwise we might have taken 10 wickets. It's a reality check for us and I don't think we have played as well as we can. I think the best is yet to come from us and hopefully we'll be able to put together for the next game against Kenya," he said.
In Rotterdam, Netherlands cruised to a seven-wicket win over Canada thanks to opener Eric Szwarczynski's unbeaten 84. Canada are still searching for their first victory after their batsmen again failed to put up a substantial total.
After choosing to bat, only three of their batsmen made it to double-digits, but captain Ashish Bagai again shone with his second half-century of the tournament. Bagai was assisted by an aggressive 34 from Geoff Barnett and a 27 from No.9 Calvert Hooper as he shepherded Canada to 168 before becoming the last man to be dismissed. Mark Jonkman and Bradley Kruger were the most successful bowlers for the home side, taking three wickets each.
The Netherlands chase had an early hiccup when Tom de Grooth was lbw to Hooper, but Szwarczynski compiled 91 for the second wicket with Tom Cooper to virtually end Canada's chances. They were a couple of quick wickets in the 90s, but Bas Zuiderent's unbeaten 35 helped Szwarczynski confirm the victory.