Afghanistan clinched a significant seven-wicket win over the Netherlands, gaining two crucial points in the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup, held in Lucknow. This victory has propelled Afghanistan to eight points on the World Cup table and significantly improved their chances of a knockout spot.
In a thrilling contest, Rahmat Shah (52) and Hashmatullah Shahidi (56*) emerged as the heroes for Afghanistan, establishing a 74-run partnership for the third wicket. Despite the Netherlands managing to grab early wickets, they struggled to make an impact due to their modest outing in the first innings.
Afghanistan's reliable opening pair, Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran, gave their team a brisk start, accumulating boundaries with ease. Even though Gurbaz was dismissed by Logan van Beek, Rahmat Shah and Ibrahim Zadran ensured that Afghanistan maintained a steady pace towards their target.
After reaching a solid 109 at the 20-over mark, Rahmat and Hashmatullah Shahidi accelerated, and Afghanistan eventually secured victory in the 32nd over.
Earlier in the day, Afghanistan's spinners created havoc, leading to the Netherlands losing four batters due to erratic running. Wicketkeeper Ikram Alikhil was the standout performer behind the stumps, contributing to three run-outs, a stumping, and two catches.
Scott Edwards, the Netherlands captain, elected to bat first after winning the toss, while Afghanistan skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi expressed his preference to bat on the wicket.
The Dutch faced early trouble when the precision of Mujeeb Ur Rahman accounted for Wesley Barresi in the very first over. Max O'Dowd and Colin Ackermann then steadied the ship, finding boundaries at regular intervals.
Afghanistan's concerns were heightened when Rashid Khan briefly left the field due to an injury concern but later returned.
A brilliant throw from the deep by Azmatullah Omarzai led to O'Dowd's dismissal, and subsequent run-outs disrupted the Dutch innings, reducing them to 112/5 at the mid-innings mark.
The Netherlands struggled to build a competitive total, with their innings derailed by erratic strokes. Afghanistan's spin attack, led by Mohammad Nabi, played a pivotal role in dismantling the Dutch batting lineup.
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