Win over UAE keeps Afghanistan’s hopes for World Cup alive


HARARE: Rashid Khan insisted that “anything can happen” and that Afghanistan are still holding hopes of qualifying for next year’s World Cup in England and Wales, after beating the UAE by five wickets on Tuesday.

Rashid took five for 41 as the UAE were bowled out for 177 and team-mates Najibullah Zadran and Gulbadin Naib both hit unbeaten fifties to see Afghanistan home with more than 15 overs to spare in Harare.

Afghanistan didn’t carry any points into the Super Six round, but two successive victories mean they are now level with Ireland on four points. If they win their final match against the Irish on Friday convincingly and Scotland and Zimbabwe both lose their remaining games against the West Indies and the UAE respectively, Afghanistan could still snatch one of the two places for the World Cup.

“Anything can happen,” said Rashid. “In the Super Six, it’s quite difficult for anyone to go directly [into the final].”

It was Rashid’s fourth ODI five-for, taking him to a staggering 96 wickets in just 42 games.

After a poor start to the tournament with losses to Scotland, Zimbabwe and Hong Kong, Afghanistan have kept themselves in contention with wins over West Indies and the UAE.

Rashid was introduced fairly late after UAE decided to bat, but he quickly made an impact.

He had opener Chirag Suri caught behind for a gritty 22, and then removed Mohammad Usman lbw as UAE slipped to 84 for five.

Shaiman Anwar and Mohammad Naveed inspired a UAE fightback, but Rashid returned to the attack to dismiss both men, adding the final wicket of No. 11 Qadeer Ahmed to complete his five-wicket haul.

While Rashid led Afghanistan’s bowling effort, it was Naib and Najibullah who secured their win with the bat after a top-order collapse had seen them slip to 54 for five.


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