|ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, Abu Dhabi|
|Afghanistan 160-5 (20 overs): Shahzad 45 (33), Zazai 33 (27); Loftie-Eaton 2-21|
|Namibia 98-9 (20 overs): Wiese 26 (30); Hassan 3-9, Naveen 3-26|
|Afghanistan won by 62 runs|
A dominant display from Afghanistan saw them crush Namibia by 62 runs in the Men’s T20 World Cup to boost their semi-final hopes.
Chasing 161 after Afghanistan’s imposing effort, Namibia limped to 98-9 from 20 overs.
Opener Craig Williams’ departure in the first over set the tone for the rest of the innings as Namibia failed to gain any momentum.
Hamid Hassan, playing his first international T20 since 2016, took a brilliant 3-9 and fellow seamer Naveen-ul-Haq also shone with 3-26.
Afghanistan, bouncing back from their defeat by Pakistan, proved again why they are seen as a dangerous side in Group 2 at this World Cup.
Hard-hitting openers Hazratullah Zazai and Mohammad Shahzad added 53 for the first wicket before captain Mohammad Nabi (32 not out from 17) and Asghar Afghan (31 from 23), emotional in his last international match, added useful lower-order runs.
The victory keeps Afghanistan second in the table behind Pakistan, but having played more games than India and New Zealand, who meet at 14:00 GMT.
Afghanistan boost semi-final chances
Despite Afghanistan’s remarkable rise in international T20 cricket, not many would have backed them to make it out of a group that included India, Pakistan and New Zealand.
Even having suffered an agonising defeat against Pakistan on Friday, they remain in the hunt after, perhaps predictably, thrashing Scotland and now Namibia.
Having bucked the trend of the tournament and elected to bat first, their openers attacked from the first ball. Their ‘six or nothing’ approach contributed to their downfall against Pakistan but against Namibia their middle and lower order took them to an above-par total.
But their bowling is their trump card. Against Namibia, they looked formidable even without Mujeeb ur Rahman, who was not fully fit to play. Leg-spinner Rashid Khan also had a quiet day, taking just one wicket.
Instead, the seamers impressed. Naveen and Hassan provided relentless accuracy, Hassan bowling Namibia captain Gerhard Erasmus with one of a series of impressive yorkers.
There is still a long way to go, but it is not out of the question that Afghanistan cause an upset against India or New Zealand, which would probably be needed if they are to reach the last four.
Emotional Asghar retires mid-tournament
It was also a notable match for former Afghanistan captain Afghan, who announced on Saturday that he would be retiring after this fixture.
Emotion came after the 33-year-old’s dismissal when his own team-mates formed a tunnel with their bats as he left the field.
Afghan, who finishes with 195 appearances for Afghanistan in a 12-year career, looked close to tears in an interview after his side’s batting innings.
He was seen crying in the dressing room soon after and at the end he was carried from the field on the shoulders of his team-mates.
“I am retiring because I want to give the youngsters a chance,” he said.
‘Just too good for us’ – reaction
Namibia captain Gerhard Erasmus: “We knew it would be a level up from our previous games with them being a Test-playing nation and having bowlers in the top 10 in the world. They were just too good for us today.”
Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi: “The boys are in good morale at the moment. Batting first isn’t a proper plan to always do that. but we discuss all options in the meetings.
“We have good quality seamers and they have good variations. Hamid Hassan came in today and bowled brilliantly.”