A fine all-round performance from Mohammad Nabi helped Afghanistan secure their fourth successive victory in Division 4 of the World Cricket League. Nabi took 5 for 32 before cracking 70 to lead Afghanistan to a four-wicket win over Hong Kong with just two balls to spare.
Hong Kong were well placed to set Afghanistan a very challenging target, cruising to 152 for 2 from 40 overs, until Nabi tied them down to restrict their last ten overs. Zain Abbas, one of the tournament's most consistent batsmen, top scored with 69 and, together with Roy Lamsam (35), the pair added 84 for the third wicket. Nabi had other ideas, however, rattling through Hong Kong's middle and lower order to restrict Afghanistan's target to 207.
They began confidently, with Karim Khan slapping five fours in a 13-ball 20, but Hong Kong's spinners - backed up by excellent fielding - tightened the screws and soon had Afghanistan stumbling on 48 for 3. Enter Nowroz Mangal who, along with Nabi, turned the match on its head with a decisive 105-run fourth-wicket partnership. Calmly nudging singles and pushing for twos, without wasting any opportunity to punish the bad ball, the pair quickly regained the upper hand - helped by a number of sloppy chances missed by a nervous Hong Kong side.
Mangal fell shortly after notching his fifty, but Nabi continued unabated, cracking three fine sixes - two of which went out of the ground - in a sparkling 78-ball 70. He couldn't see them home himself, but Samiullah Shenwari took them to victory with a blazing four over the covers.
"It was a very good performance and I am very happy with our team," Nabi said. "It was a turning track and I used the doosra effectively. It is very important for us. Our coach [Kabir Khan] told us to bat 50 overs and just concentrate on singles. He said if we succeeded in batting the full 50 overs, we would win the match and we did exactly that."
Meanwhile, Jersey got their first win of the tournament with a 79-run win over Fiji. Jersey managed to reach an impressive 228 for 4 in 40 overs, owing to the rainy conditions, with the two Gough Brothers, Jonathan (75) and Peter (41) starring in the innings. They received good support from Ryan Driver who skipped to an unbeaten 46.
In reply, Fiji put up their best batting display of the tournament, but could still only muster 149 before they were bowled out. Ben Stevens, Jersey's promising slow-left-armer, took 4 for 46.
The eagerly anticipated clash between Tanzania and Italy was abandoned due to rain and will be played on Thursday. Tanzania will then play Fiji on Friday, while Hong Kong take on Jersey and Italy play Afghanistan.