Bulawayo: Afghanistan cruised to an easy and much-needed win over over Nepal in their Group B game at Bulawayo Athletic Club, to just about keep their hopes of Super Six qualification alive.
Chasing just 195 for victory, Afghanistan wrapped up their first win of the tournament by six wickets with 11.2 overs to spare.
Captain Rashid Khan sprung a surprise by walking out to open the innings and got things off to a lively start, hitting five fours during a 14-ball stay that reaped 21.
His partner Javed Ahmadi was more sedate, building his way to 26 off 54 balls and from 93/2, Nepal really needed to force a dramatic collapse if they were to achieve an unlikely victory.
Rahmat Shah hit 46 off 75 balls and Mohammad Nabi 34 off 32 before both were removed by Dipendra Singh Airee.
Following their recent results, there will have been a few nerves among the Afghanistan camp but they didn’t show, Najibullah Zadran bringing about an early finish with a brisk 47-ball 52 featuring three sixes and four fours – including an 18-run over off left-arm spinner Basant Regmi to put the result beyond doubt.
Earlier, the spin trio of Mohammad Nabi (4/33), Rashid Khan (3/45) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman (1/24) did the bulk of the damage, while Shapoor Zadran, the fiery paceman, got two wickets towards the close to end with 2/32, but the standout performance came from the gallant Nepal captain Paras Khadka, who almost single-handedly kept his team in the fight with an 82-ball 75.
That Nepal still managed to bat for 49.5 overs and add some decent meat to their total was down to Dipendra Airee, who scored a 41-ball 32, and Aarif Sheikh, who contributed 23 from 36 balls, even as Nabi added the scalps of Sheikh and Sompal Kami to his kitty.