We are trying our best to make it to the semi-final: Hashmatullah Shahidi
The Netherlands was all out for 179 while Afghanistan’s chase of 180 got off to a slow start but Shahidi scored his 19th fifty in an ODI along the way, and the win was sealed in the 32nd over; now in fifth place, Afghanistan still has a chance to make it to the semi-finals with South Africa and Australia up next.
The Netherlands had won the toss and decided to bat first. Max O’Dowd’s early attack helped the Netherlands start the day with their best batting start of the World Cup, reaching 72 for 1 in 11 overs. But, Azmatullah Omarzai’s direct hit from a fine leg in the 12th over ended O’Dowd’s attempt to reach a second run.
However, for no apparent reason, the run-outs continued as a well-set Colin Ackermann (29), hesitated to respond to a single call from Sybrand Engelbrecht. The next delivery was a reverse sweep that Scott Edwards mishit, and by the time he knew where it went, wicketkeeper Ikram Alikhil had smashed his stumps. Rashid Khan, Noor Ahmed, and Muhammad Nabi put on a little pressure, but Engelbrecht, the man keeping the innings together, was also run out after Roelof van der Merwe called him for a single that wasn’t there.
Afghanistan never let go of the opportunity they had after the Netherlands was demoralized by those four similar dismissals. The Netherlands’ middle overs were dominated by their spinners as they went from 72 for 1 to 97 for 5.
It also helped Afghanistan bounce back after a challenging start at the bowl, when they lost 6.6 runs per over in the power play even though they had taken Wesley Barresi’s wicket in the opening over. One of their two seamers, Fazalhaq Farooqi, gave up eight boundaries during the power play, setting a tournament record for the 2023 edition.
Alikhil, the wicketkeeper, had an outstanding performance behind the wickets, taking two challenging catches from spin bowling and stumping Logan van Beek, in addition to contributing to three of the four run-outs.
When van Beek handed Nabi a charge, he was quick with his glove work and held on to catches offered by Bas de Leede and Saqib Zulfiqar. On a day when Afghanistan dropped Naveen-ul-Haq and added Noor to play with four spinners, Nabi, with his 3 for 28, was the best bowler.
After Rahmanullah Gurbaz was out in the fifth over and Ibrahim Zadran was out by the 11th, Afghanistan’s chase of 180 got off to a slow start. However, they weren’t under pressure to score runs after No. 3 Rahmat’s early barrage of boundaries.
Afghanistan remained well ahead in the chase thanks to Rahmat’s work in front of square on the offside and his partnership of 74 in 77 balls with Shahidi. Once the initial thrill faded, the seamers from the Netherlands became less effective, and the batsmen were careful when facing the spin of Zulfiqar and Aryan Dutt.
Rahmat made his third successive fifty at the World Cup and his 26th in all ODIs, but the wrong-footed wrist spinner Zulfiqar caught and bowled him. But Omarzai’s counterpunch upon arrival and Shahidi’s fort holding ended the Dutch joy quickly.
Shahidi scored his 19th fifty in an ODI along the way, and the win was sealed in the 32nd over, with the partnership remaining unbeaten on a stand of 52. It is noteworthy that during the game, no sixes were hit.
A top-eight finish is now difficult for the Netherlands, which will face England and India in the coming games, making a Champions Trophy spot in 2025 appear unlikely. Now in fifth place, Afghanistan still has a chance to make it to the semi-finals with South Africa and Australia up next.
Hashmatullah Shahidi, Afghanistan captain:
“(What pleased him more between their batting and bowling performance) I can say both. We bowled well but the run-chase is good. The third consecutive time that we have chased down a target successfully. (Run-chases and why it brings out the best in them) We are looking at the board and the target of the opposition team. We are playing accordingly, and we are achieving for our team. (On Nabi) He is a special player. He always shows his talent. Whenever the team needs him, he takes responsibility, like he did today. We are all very united at this World Cup. We are enjoying our wins, and all of them are thinking about winning. (On dreaming about the semi-final) Of course, 100%. We are trying our best to make it to the semi-final and if it happens, it will be a big achievement for the country. I lost my mother three months ago and my family is in a lot of pain. It will be a big achievement (to reach the semi-final), first of all for the country, but also for my family. (Message to the people back home) Right now, a lot of refugee people are struggling. We are watching their videos and we are sad for them. We are with them in these tough times and I want to dedicate this win to them, who are in pain, and to everyone back home.”
Scott Edwards, Netherlands captain:
“(On the run-outs) Definitely not ideal. Hard to come back from that. We started well and set ourselves up for a good total but gave it away a little. They have high-quality spinners and we did not have top-order batters to face them. (On the decision at the toss and the dew) The theory we went in with was we could not plan for the dew. 280 would have been a good score even if Dew was around. (On Champions Trophy qualification) Not something we were looking to before this game but something we might have to look at now.”
Mohammad Nabi, Player of the Match:
“(On how well he is bowling) Just focussing on my lines and lengths. Focussing on dot balls. I always try to concentrate on my lines lengths, and variations. I try to stick to my plans and use the angles. In some pitches, the variation is more, that is sometimes why I get more wickets. I focus on dot balls and that is how I control my economy rate. (On what keeps him going) Still working on my fitness, working on my rehab, and proper diet. It is working (smiles).”