Friday 23 March 2012,
Dubai – Afghanistan qualified for its second successive ICC World Twenty20 when it comprehensively beat Namibia by 47 runs in the 1st Qualifying Final of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier UAE 2012 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium (DICS) on Thursday afternoon.
In front of about 3,500 cheering and jubilant supporters, Afghanistan fast bowler Dawlat Zadran dismissed Namibia's in-form openers Raymond van Schoor and Gerrie Snyman in his first over and then his new ball partner Aftab Alam ripped the heart out of the African side, as it stuttered to 99 all out in 18.1 overs after being set a target of 147.
Man of the match Zadran finished with impressive figures of 3.1-1-5-3 while Alam returned figures of 4-0-25-4.
The victory, apart from earning Afghanistan a ticket to Sri Lanka for the tournament proper to be staged from 18 September to 7 October, has also put it in the final of the qualifying tournament which will start at 1800 (local time) at the DICS on Saturday, 24 March.
While Afghanistan has been assured of a place in the tournament proper alongside the 10 Full Members, Namibia still has an opportunity to win the second and last available spot when it plays the winner of Ireland and Netherlands match on the morning of Saturday, 24 March.
On Thursday morning, Ireland had reached the Preliminary Final after recording a thumping 10 wickets victory over Canada where it was joined by Netherlands which ended the challenge of Scotland by three wickets.
The grouping of the ICC World Twenty20 Sri Lanka 2012 will be decided on the basis of how the final pans out. The tournament winner joins Australia and the West Indies in Group B, while the losing finalist will complete Group A which also includes defending champion England and 2007 winner India.
Afghanistan won the toss and elected to bat first on a good batting surface. All its frontline batsmen made good starts but failed to convert these starts into big innings. As such, the entire side was bowled out for 146 in 20 overs.
Karim Sadiq (28), Javed Ahmadi (24), Asghar Stanikzai (19) and Mohammad Nabi (18) were the prominent run-getters while 57-run first wicket stand between Karim and Javed was Afghanistan's highest partnership.
Namibia captain Sarel Burger (three for 16) and Christi Viljoen (three for 34) not only picked up wickets at regular intervals but also didn't allow the attacking Afghan batsmen to free their arms.
In turn, Zadran sent back the two in-form Namibian openers back in the hut in the first five balls of the opening over before Alam ended the prospects of a close finish when he picked up the prized scalp of Louis van der Westhuizen in the fourth over as Namibia eventually fell 47 runs short after being bowled out for 99.
ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat complimented Afghanistan on its achievement. Mr Lorgat said: "Many congratulations to Nawroz Mangal's fantastic team for becoming the first side to qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 Sri Lanka 2012.
"A second successive appearance for Afghanistan in a global ICC event after having only started to play internationally in the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 5 tournament in 2008, is very impressive.
"I expect there will be lots of celebrations in Kabul today ? and why not? After all, this team has once again made its people proud by earning the right to play alongside the Full Members in a global ICC event.
"By qualifying for the ICC World T20 tournament, which will be followed by billions across the globe, Afghanistan will get another chance to showcase its talents and passion for the game of cricket. Judging by how they have played in recent years, I have no doubt that they will be a team to be reckoned with.
"Namibia also deserves to be congratulated as it has performed well throughout this tournament. While it may be disappointed today, it still has another opportunity to qualify as it will now play the winner of Ireland and Netherland's match to will determine the second country to qualify for the main event."
In a one-sided Ireland-Canada match at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, the North Americans batted first after winning the toss and managed only 106 for eight against a disciplined Irish bowling. Opener Ruvindu Gunasekera (23), Tyson Gordon (23) and Nitish Kumar (17) were the only batsmen who reached double figures.
Ireland's left-arm spinner George Dockrell (three for 19), fast bowler Max Sorensen (three for 20) and veteran Trent Johnston (two for nine) shared wickets.
In turn, openers Paul Stirling and captain William Porterfield achieved the target in less than 10 overs without being separated. Stirling clubbed nine fours and three sixes in a 32-ball 61 not out while Porterfield's 25-ball 42 including eight sizzling fours.
Johnston, reflecting on his man of the match performance, said: "I think that the more games we're playing, the better I'm getting.
"I've always enjoyed bowling here as it reminds me of the Australian wickets. I think as a bowler, you know there's something in there if you are prepared to bend your back."
At the ICC Global Cricket Academy Oval 1, Tom Cooper produced his best batting performance of the tournament when he scored an electrifying 60 that helped the Netherlands defeat Scotland by three wickets.
Cooper slapped four fours and as many sixes in a 32-ball 62 which helped the Dutch to overhaul the 167-run target with three wickets and five balls to spare.
Cooper took the crease at the score of 67 for three in 9.1 overs and when he became the seventh and last Dutch batsman to get out, 15 runs were required off 12 balls. Tom de Grooth and Tim Gruijters ensured that their side crossed the line without any further hiccups when they scored the required 15 runs in seven balls.
Earlier, Scotland, electing to bat first after winning the toss, collected 166 for five with openers Callum MacLeod (57) and Richie Berrington (37) adding 59 runs for the first wicket and then MacLeod and Preseton Mommsen (26) putting on 54 runs for the second wicket.
For Netherlands, Pieter Seelaar two for 25), Mudassar Bukhari (two for 30) and Peter Borren (two for 32) shared wickets.
A smiling Cooper said later: "The target was probably par for this pitch. So we were confident of chasing it down. We did well to pull things back in bowling. I knew that if one of us stayed till the end then we could chase it down."