Afghanistan thrash Scotland mercilessly
In a battle of the 'best of the associates', Afghanistan beat Scotland by a whopping 130 runs courtesy of a career best fifer from Mujeeb.
By Vadiraj Kanakagiri
Scotland had made them into the super 12s, by putting on some dominating performances in the qualifying rounds. Their confidence was sky-high as they had been unbeaten in three games. They were up against an Afghanistan side, whose country is boiling in turmoil at the moment. No one was sure about the mental state of these Afghan cricketers and whether they can bring their best on the field.
Taking all things into consideration, Scotland sensed that they have a real chance here, to show the world that they're not far behind Afghanistan, to not be considered for full member status. But once the players took the field, it was sheer dominance from Afghanistan. They were showing no signs of nervousness or double-mindedness. They were as focused as they could. And Scotland, really, didn't stand a chance. The game was as one-sided as it could get.
After watching yesterday's high scoring encounter at Sharjah, Mohammed Nabi surprisingly elected to bat first on a good track. Back in the squad after a debacle initially, Mohammed Shahjad walked into bat with Hazratullah Zazai. The two heavyweight batters, both literally and figuratively, showed their right from the get go. They wasted no time in putting the opposition bowlers on the back foot, by their fearless stroke-play.
What proceeded then was an absolute dismantling of the Scottish bowling from the Afghan power hitters. This Afghani batting line up is almost synonymous to the West Indies one, in terms of big hitters coming one after another. Although it's a big comparison, it certainly isn't that far away. Coming in at three Gurbaz, took some time to get going and once he was in his groove, the pair of him and Zazai looked set for a huge score.
Even though everyone was getting carted around the park, Mark Watt was calming things down with the ball. He continued his great run from the qualifiers and made it very hard for the batters to get him away. The fact that his captain entrusted him to bowl the eighteenth over is a testament to the fact of how well he was bowling and the confidence he had instilled in everyone. He ended his figures with 1 for 23.
Coming in at four, Najibullah Zadran had the license to go for the kill. And he did just that. Making great use of a great start, he thrashed the balls to all parts. Scottish bowlers too were guilty of feeding him with half volleys, making it easier for the batters to plant their feet and tonk deliveries out the ground. Finally, the rampage came to an end with the score reaching 190.
On a good track, Scotland did have a tiny hope of making a game out of it. But once Mujeeb got the ball in his hand, it was just absolute carnage. It was like a spin wizard bowling against little kids. They just couldn't read the spin on the ball. Most batters fell victim to LBW, missing gun barrel straight ones. When they did play for a straighter delivery, Mujeeb had the artistry to turn the ball the other way.
After the power play, Scotland were reduced to 37 for 5 with Mujeeb scalping four of those. Such was his dominance. And all this had happened even before Rashid had laid his hands on the ball. And once he was into the attack, the doors of a rebuild completely shut for the Scottish batters.
Having deceived and fooled the best of the batters around the world, cleaning up the lower middle order wasn't a big deal for Rashid. His googlies were just poetry in motion. He himself ended with four wickets as did Rashid while ending the nightmarish innings for the Scottish on 60.
It was a pity, whenever the cameraman panned to the Scottish dugout. Surely they didn't expect this kind of hammering. And neither did they deserve one