Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
BAN v SL (1)
SLCD-XI in ENG (1)
County DIV1 (4)
County DIV2 (4)
Trent Rockets 136 for 3 (Malan 52, Patel 35*) beat Manchester Originals 135 for 8 (Munro 45, Rashid Khan 3-16) by seven wickets
Manchester Originals, who had already been eliminated after consecutive defeats, were 70 for 1 after 40 balls when Rashid came into the attack, but he struck three times in his first six balls to set a middle-order slide in motion which proved decisive. He was unusually subdued in his celebrations, with the crisis unfolding at home in Afghanistan seemingly on his mind, but still delivered a clutch performance in a must-win game to set up an easy win.
In the chase, Originals were unable to take the early wickets they needed as Malan put on 50 for the first wicket with Alex Hales, moving up to open in a bid to find some form before the knockout stages. Matt Parkinson struck twice through the middle, having Hales caught behind and Steven Mullaney top-edging to mid-on, but Samit Patel's 35 not out saw them across the line.
The result sets up a winner-takes-all fixture between Southern Brave and Oval Invincibles at the Ageas Bowl on Monday night and means that Northern Superchargers have been eliminated. In the event of a no-result or a tie on Monday, Invincibles would pip Brave to the final spot in the top three. Rockets are likely to play in Friday's eliminator, though could go straight into Saturday's final if Superchargers thrash Phoenix on Tuesday.
Rashid gave an interview to the Observer in the build-up to the Hundred in which he revealed he had spent 25 nights at home in the last five years, during which time both of his parents have passed away. He has been tweeting with increasing despair over the last month about the humanitarian crisis and deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and in the context of Kabul being seized by force on Sunday, it was a credit to his professionalism that he managed to keep his focus on the matter at hand at Trent Bridge.
He came on with Colin Munro set on 25 off 12 balls and playing with the uninhibited calmness of a man whose team had nothing riding on the result, and his Sussex and Adelaide Strikers team-mate Phil Salt looking to accelerate after making it through the Powerplay. His first ball was his worst, a full toss sliding down the leg side, but Salt top-edged a sweep to short fine leg to give Rashid an early breakthrough.
Two balls later, he pushed through a googly which struck Colin Ackermann on the shoulder as he got low in an optimistic attempt to sweep. After a long delay due to technical difficulties, ball-tracking confirmed it was hitting the top of leg stump and Rashid had two in three balls. He changed ends for his second set of five, immediately yorking Carlos Brathwaite, and conceded four runs across a set of 10 from the same end.
His final set went for two boundaries through third man - once via the outside edge, the other through a late dab - but as if to make up for those runs, he held onto a superb running catch at deep square leg, to go with an earlier effort at long-on. It was not far off a one-man show.
Malan's the man
Malan started the season with a fluent innings of 62 not out off 43 balls to help Rockets cruise to victory against Southern Brave, but managed only 86 off 79 across his next six knocks - after his sluggish 51 against Birmingham Phoenix, Moeen Ali even joked: "we kept Malan in, which was great for us".
This chase was an ideal situation for him, with limited pressure on the required rate, and he got up and running in the Powerplay with a series of trademark drives and punches through the off-side ring. He slowed down slightly through the middle and fell for a low-key 52 off 46, when miscuing to extra cover via the top edge, but had provided a foil for the right-handers and left an equation of 12 off 10 balls.
Patel, who had earlier celebrated exuberantly after bowling his Nottinghamshire team-mate Joe Clarke, put the finishing touches to the chase with a pair of late sixes, before D'Arcy Short - shuffling down to No. 5 as Rockets ensured left-right partnerships throughout - thumped a full toss for four to seal the win.
Rashid Khan stays match-winning class act amid worsening crisis at home
Afghanistan star is currently the joint-highest wicket-taker at the Hundred