AFGHANISTAN qualified for the main round of the World Twenty20 by beating Zimbabwe by 59 runs while Scotland finally got its first victory in its third tournament appearance with help from rain on Saturday.
All-rounder Mohammad Nabi (52) scored his maiden half-century to propel Afghanistan to 186-6, then legspinner Rashid Khan (3-11) choked Zimbabwe to 127 all out with two balls to spare.
Scotland beat Hong Kong by eight wickets on the Duckworth/Lewis method, in which its target was reduced to 76 in 10 overs due to rain in the last Group B match.
Hong Kong, which opted to bat first after winning the toss, was restricted to 127-7 before the rain arrived. Scotland reached 78-2 in eight overs, with Matthew Cross scoring an unbeaten 22 and opening batsman Kyle Coetzer 20.
Afghanistan, which defeated Scotland and Hong Kong, will join England, West Indies, South Africa, and Sri Lanka in Group 1 of the Super 10 next week.
“This match was very important for Afghanistan, the people love cricket back home,” captain Asghar Stanikzai said. “We played a few poor shots, but Sami and Nabi played very well.” Afghanistan was 4-63, having lost four wickets in 19 balls, when Samiullah Shenwari added 43 off 37 balls and put on a matchwinning 98 runs with Nabi off 64 balls.
Nabi hit four boundaries, two sixes, and cut loose late as Afghanistan added 77 runs in the last five overs against some wayward Zimbabwe bowling.
Hard-hitting opening batsman Mohammad Shahzad (40) hit seven fours and a six, providing Afghanistan a whirlwind start of 49 runs off 29 balls.
But after Shahzad was caught at point while attempting an extravagant reverse sweep off left-arm spinner Sean Williams, medium-pacer Tinashe Panyangara took 3-14.
Nabi and Shenwari then featured in Afghanistan’s second best Twenty20 stand as Zimbabwe struggled to stem the flow of runs in the last five overs. Nabi whacked spinner Wellington Masakadza for two sixes and a four in the 16th over, and Shenwari hit Panyangara for two boundaries and a six in the 18th.
Zimbabwe, which lost its previous four T20s against Afghanistan, lost wickets at regular intervals and half of the side was dismissed for 63 runs by the 12th over.
No. 10 batsman Panyangara topscored with an unbeaten 17.
“They played a lot better than us,” Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza said. “From the moment they hit us out in the powerplay, we were struggling. Nothing went according to the plan.” Meanwhile, England opening batsmen Jason Roy (55) and Alex Hales (44) laid a solid platform in a six-wicket victory over New Zealand in a warm-up at Mumbai.