Afghanistan breeze past Hong Kong with six-wicket win

Afghanistan cruised to a comfortable six-wicket victory over Hong Kong in its group B qualifying match of the ICC World Twenty20 qualifier at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium here on Thursday night.

Afghanistan bowler Rashid Khan (right) celebrates with team mates after dismissing Hong Kong's Jamie Atkinson in Nagpur on Thursday.   -  PTI

Afghanistan cruised to a comfortable six-wicket victory over Hong Kong in its group B qualifying match of the ICC World Twenty20 qualifier at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium here on Thursday night.

Mohammad Shahzad continued from where he left off against Scotland, slamming two sixes and four boundaries for his fortifying 41. Lending him solid support in quelling the bowlers was non-striker Noor Ali (35, 2 x 4), their opening stand worth a sizeable 70 runs.

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Shahzad’s downfall came when he lofted Ryan Campbell to long off Anshuman Rath. In what increasingly appeared to be a losing cause for the island nation, the offie came in for more success when he castled Mohammad Nabi. Afghanistan never seemed in peril though, ensuring it had a favourable asking rate almost all through the game.

So assured did Afghanistan appear that the loss of four top order batsmen by the time the team crossed three figures did little to dent its confidence. That belief wasn’t belied as the fifth wicket pair of Najibullah Zadran and Gulbadin Naib steered their side to their second win in as many games.

Earlier, Afghanistan’s famed pace trio made way for Mohammad Nabi. The off-break bowler with a bag of four 20 had the Hong Kong batsmen tied up in knots.

Bright start

After Hong Kong opted to bat and its openers Jamie Atkinson and Ryan Campbell set up a sound start, Afghanistan’s attack wrested the advantage. Campbell’s exit was pervaded by bad luck, the ball bouncing back from his helmet into the stumps. Slackness in approach and application found Babar Hayat spooning a catch to midwicket Samiullah Shenwari.

Atkinson, not half as good as he was against Zimbabwe, wasn’t quite comfortable against Rashid Khan. Unable to read the wily leggie, the strapping opener soon found his off-stump uprooted. Mark Chapman had his woodwork rearranged by a Gulbadin Naib yorker, which left the batsman without a chance.