Afghanistan, Ireland, Scotland and Oman have all advanced to the semi-finals after finishing in the top two of its respective groups as group matches of the Desert T20 Cup concluded overnight.
Afghanistan who had already guaranteed a semi-finals place before last night’s dead rubber match against minnow Namibia, warmed up for the semi’s with a comprehensive 64-run win.
Batting first, Afghanistan was led by its top order as four of its top five batsmen scored in the 30’s. Aggressive opener Mohammad Shahzad led it off to a good start posting a run-a-ball 31 and was supported by fellow opener Nawroz Mangal (32 from 25 balls) as they put on a first-wicket partnership of 56 in just eight overs.
The rest of the middle order contributed as Captain Asghar Stanikzai (31 from 23 balls with two sixes) and Samiullah Shenwari a swashbuckling 35 from 19 balls took the total to a commanding 6-167 from its 20 overs.
Despite the score, Captain Stanikzai will be a little concerned that none of his batsmen was able to post a big score in what could come back to haunt them in the latter part of the tournament.
Namibia never stood much of a chance and could only muster 103 all out in reply. Its top order malfunctioned badly with four of the top five failing to reach double figures including opening batsman Louis Van Der Westhuizen and Craig Williams being dismissed for ducks.
Lower order batter Jan Frylinck’s cameo of 28 from 21 balls was one of the few highlights of the Namibia innings.
Rashid Khan (3-4 from 2.2 overs) and Amir Hanza (2-24 from four overs) warmed up for its semi final clash against Oman tonight with strong bowling performances.
Oman, the Afghani’s opponents in the first semi-final tonight lost its match against Scotland by seven-wickets. Even despite the loss and finishing with a record of just one win from its three group games, the Middle-Eastern nation was still able to advance to the semi final’s thanks to a superior run rate over Hong Kong and Netherlands who also finished with one win from three games.
There had been hope coming into the match for Hong Kong and its supporters if Scotland could record a big enough win. That hope was still around at the end of the first innings where Oman was all out for a modest 133. However Scotland, not looking to do any favours for Hong Kong were cautious and calculated in the chase, securing the win with just six balls remaining. Matthew Cross was the mainstay for the Scots with 47 not out from 40 balls including three fours and two sixes.
Oman will need more runs with the bat if it hopes to challenge Afghanistan in the Semi-Finals. Its only win came against Hong Kong where it was chasing just 88 for the win. Their bowling has a mixture of spin and pace which has troubled a lot of teams, including the Scots who were reduced to 2-48 in the 9th over in last night’s clash.
If Oman can get their batters to carry its weight then their semi against Afghanistan could be a very interesting clash.
Scotland meanwhile has a big clash against rivals Ireland in the second semi final.
Ireland dropped just the one game (compared to Scotland who won all three of its group games) which was against Afghanistan. The Scots face a stern test if it is to advance to the final. That said, the form of Matthew Cross, Kyle Coetzer and Con De Lange gives their fans hopes of success and gives the neutral viewer a tantalising match up to get excited about.
The two semi-finals are to be played back to back before a two hour break. The final will then commence at 7.00 local time.