On Friday, Afghanistan defeated the Netherlands by seven wickets in a low-scoring group match, keeping their chances of reaching the World Cup semi-finals alive.
Afghanistan climbed to fifth in the standings with eight points, behind New Zealand on net run rate. The top four teams advance to the semi-finals. Afghanistan had won only one game in two previous World Cups, but now have four wins in the tournament in India having also beaten the defending champions, England, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
“We are fully committed to reaching the semi-finals and it would be a great accomplishment for our country,” stated Hashmatullah Shahidi, captain of Afghanistan, after scoring an undefeated 50 runs in the run-chase. “Losing my mother three months ago has been difficult for my family, so this victory would not only be significant for our country but also for my family. Many refugees are facing hardships and we stand with them during this challenging time. I dedicate this win to all the refugees who are suffering.”
While chasing a target of 180 runs for victory, Afghanistan had lost two wickets and were at a score of 55. However, Rahmat Shah’s quick innings of 52 runs off 54 balls laid a strong foundation for an easy chase. Hazratullah Shahidi also contributed with a half-century, scoring 56 runs and leading Afghanistan to a victory in the 32nd over. He sealed the win with his sixth boundary.
In the beginning, the Netherlands made the decision to bat first after winning the toss. However, Mujeeb Ur Rahman took a wicket in the first over by getting opener Wesley Barresi out lbw, marking his 100th ODI wicket. Despite Shahidi’s compliments on Afghanistan’s batting and bowling, it was their fielding that limited the Dutch team to a low score. This was due to four consecutive batters getting run out due to communication errors.
Max O’Dowd, aged 42, appeared to be on track for a high score with nine boundaries. However, he was ultimately run out by an impressive play from Azmatullah Omarzai, who hit the stumps directly as O’Dowd’s dive proved to be unsuccessful.
The leading scorer for the Dutch team at the tournament, Captain Scott Edwards, was dismissed on his first ball by Afghan keeper Ikram Alikhil. Edwards played a shot and left the crease without realizing where the ball was, resulting in a run out.
“It was certainly not an ideal situation, having four run outs within our top five players makes it difficult to bounce back. I initially believed that we had a strong start and were on track for a high total, but unfortunately we let it slip away,” stated Edwards. “We were hoping for a score of 280, which we thought would be a competitive total. We have performed well while batting first and also have a good track record of defending scores.”
Sybrand Engelbrecht was the only middle-order batsman who showed resilience, scoring a patient 58. However, the Dutch team was eventually all out for 179 runs in the 47th over, with Alikhil responsible for six dismissals and spinner Mohammad Nabi taking three wickets.
The upcoming matches for Afghanistan will be against Australia and South Africa. The Netherlands, currently ranked eighth, will face off against England and the host team, India.