Afghanistan complete fairy tale journey
Afghanistan have completed their fairy tale journey to the Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies after beating the United Arab Emirates by 4 wickets to spark wild celebrations inside the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
On a day when Afghan soldiers joined troops from the United States and the United Kingdom to launch a major offensive against the Taliban in the Helmand areas of Marjah and Nad Ali in a bid to secure government control history was being made in Dubai.
Set a total of 101 for victory Afghanistan took their time to reach that total playing with caution on a slow wicket to book their place in the Final of the Twenty20 World Cup qualifies but more importantly booking a place in the Caribbean.
Despite scoring slowly the Afghans always looked in control thanks to opener Noor Ali who proved to be the backbone of the innings scoring an unbeaten 38.
He enjoyed a 4th wicket partnership of 40 with Asghar Stanikzai (26) which saw the Afghans reach 88-3 before Stanikzai was caught by Qadar Nawaz trying to hit Fayyaz Ahmed through the boundary at long off.
The break through for the UAE increased the tension inside the Dubai International Cricket Stadium as Afghanistan started to crack under the pressure losing two more wickets before reaching their total with just 3 balls to spare.
Earlier Khurram Khan won the toss for the UAE and he elected to bat first in the winner takes all clash but the skipper wouldn't have expected the Afghans to rip through the UAE's top order leaving the hosts 11-3 as Mirwais Ashraf once again impressed with the ball.
Mohammad Iqbal (5) was the first to go playing a short ball onto his own stumps at the start of the second over. Iqbal's opening partner Arfan Haider (2) was back in the pavilion 6 ball later after being caught down at third man by Hamid Hassan.
The loss of Iqbal and Haider left the UAE 9-2 but things got a lot worse as skipper Khan (1) lasted only 3 balls giving Mohammad Shehzad an easy catch behind the stumps handing the impressive Ashraf his second wicket of the game.
Abdul Reham briefly offered some hope for the UAE scoring a quick fire 18 before he was trapped LBW by Mohammad Nabi to put the Afghans in total control leaving the UAE 53-4.
The UAE found themselves in deep trouble with their dreams of playing in the Twenty20 World Cup in tatters. Saqib Ali who's 63 against Ireland yesterday almost won the game for the UAE found himself in a similar position when he came into bat today but he was unable to repeat that innings scoring only 24.
With Ali gone the UAE's tail order collapsed under the pressure only reaching 100-9 off the last ball of their innings to put Afghanistan in total control.