New Zealand's bowlers overcame a spirited resistance from Afghanistan's lower order to seal a thrilling nine-run win at the Kev Hackney Oval in Buderim. This win puts New Zealand at No. 2 in Group B, behind Pakistan, on run-rate, while Afghanistan are at the bottom.
New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat, but struggled against the opening bowling duo of Aftab Alam and Sayed Shirzad as they slumped to 20 for 3 in the eighth over. Robert O'Donnell and Henry Walsh then set about rebuilding the innings as both stroked half-centuries. Their 108-run stand for the fourth wicket lifted New Zealand to 128 before Yamin Ahmadzai dismissed Walsh to pick up the first of his four wickets. New Zealand then lost wickets in a heap as Ahmadzai (4 for 35) and Shirzad (4 for 34) combined to restrict them to 198.
Afghanistan's chase started disastrously as New Zealand's opening bowlers Jacob Duffy and Matthew Quinn reduced them to 26 for 5. However, Afghanistan's lower order put up a fight - Najibullah Zadran (69) was involved in two half-century stands for the sixth and seventh wicket to lift Afghanistan to 139 for 6 before he was dismissed. No. 8 Afsar Khan (42) held firm as Afghanistan inched closer to the target. They needed 22 runs off the last two overs with three wickets in hand but Quinn and Duffy picked up a wicket each including that of Afsar in the final over as Afghanistan fell nine runs short to give New Zealand a close win.
Australia ensured they would finish on top of the table in Group A thanks to a dominant performance against Ireland in Townsville. Ireland captain George Dockrell won the toss and chose to bat, but things didn't go to plan with the 33-run opening stand between Robin Kelly and Ryan Hunter being the highest partnership of the innings. Fast bowler Alex Gregory got rid of both the openers and the No. 3, Jason van der Merwe. Shane Cassell (3 for 24) and the rest of the attack then ran through the middle order to bowl Ireland out for 129 in the 43rd over. Hunter was the top-scorer for Ireland with 31.
It turned out to be a relatively straightforward chase for the hosts, although they were reduced to 45 for 3 at one stage. Captain Will Bosisto (36 not out) combined with Travis Head, who scored a quick 25, and then Sam Hain (26 not out) as the Australians cruised to the target in the 41st over.
South Africa completed their second victory in as many games, comprehensively beating Namibia in Brisbane. The 209-run victory was set up by a double-century opening stand between Quinton de Kock and Chad Bowes, both scoring centuries in the process.
South Africa chose to bat and the match was taken away from Namibia's reach in the first 31.5 overs. De Kock and Bowes put on 212 in 191 balls, smacking 24 fours and three sixes between them. Once the stand was broken, none of the other batsmen could get an extended partnership going - Zhivago Groenewald struck with regularity to finish with three wickets, despite going for 85 in nine overs - but quick cameos made sure South Africa powered past 350.
Chasing 360, Namibia were never in the match. No one in the line-up managed to get past Pelham Myburgh's 37, and they could not score at a quick rate either. Namibia were bowled out for 150 in 46 overs - the lower order being cleaned up by offspinner Theunis de Bruyn, who finished with figures of 5-0-20-4.
"Chad and I got off to a good start but it was difficult in the morning with a sticky and bouncy wicket," de Kock said. "We had to work hard for our runs and I'm proud of our achievements today, they were well fought for."
Bowes said his side had gained good momentum ahead of their next game against Sri Lanka tomorrow. The confidence is up and the spirit within the side is high," Bowes said. "We have a good net run-rate so it will take a little bit of the pressure off going into the game, but we're ready to give it our best shot."