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Scotland stuns Afghanistan in World Cup Qualifier

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A 208-run third wicket partnership between Calum MacLeod and Richie Berrington helped defending champions Scotland surprise Afghanistan by seven wickets in a Group B fixture of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 at the Bulawayo Athletic Club on Sunday.

MacLeod scored an unbeaten 157, his sixth century in 51 ODIs, and Berrington followed up his three for 42 with a watchful 67 as Scotland ruined Rashid Khan’s debut as Afghanistan captain at 19 years and 165 days when they achieved the 256-run target with 16 balls and seven wickets to spare.

Elsewhere, veterans Sikandar Raza and Brendan Taylor gave Nepal a cricket lesson when they scored entertaining centuries in Zimbabwe’s 116 runs victory in another Group B fixture in front of almost 2,500 spectators at the Harare Sports Club.

In Group A fixtures in Harare, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) carved out a comfortable 56 runs victory over Papua New Guinea (PNG) by the DLS Method at the Harare Sports Club and Ireland maintained their dominance over the Netherlands when they won by 93 runs by the DLS Method at the Old Hararians.

In the feature match of the day, Scotland produced a clinical performance to upset Afghanistan.

Chasing 256 for victory, Scotland were in some bother at 21 for two, but a 208-run third wicket partnership in nearly 37 overs between player of the match MacLeod and Berrington sealed the match in Scotland’s favour. This was only the second victory for Scotland over Afghanistan in 12 ODIs.

The architects of Scotland’s victory were MacLeod and Berrington. MacLeod’s 157 not out came from 146 balls and included 23 fours and a six, while Berrington hit four fours in a 95-ball 67.

Scotland skipper Kyle Coetzer lauded MacLeod and Berrington while also crediting other members for the effort.

“The standout (performance) for us today is MacLeod. It was an unbelievable effort from him. Earlier, the bowlers did their job, the spinners were effective in their short spells. We took wickets continuously and that was the key to our day. Richie ended with three wickets and some 70 runs, was brilliant in the field, his standards never drop.

“It’s a great start to the tournament but we will take every day as it comes. We need to pick ourselves again and get ready and raring to go against Hong Kong,” he said.

The result spoiled Rashid Khan’s day, who became the world’s first teenager at 19 years and 165 days to captain a men's international side and the youngest player ever, male or female, to captain in a full international match. He beat the record of Arran Thompson, who had captained England against Scotland in a women’s ODI in August 2001 at Reading aged 19 years and 260 days.

Earlier in the day, Mohammad Nabi fell victim to the nervous 90s when he was run-out for 92 as Afghanistan recovered from 71 for four to 255 all out in 49.4 overs. The all-rounder struck nine fours and three sixes in an 82-ball 92, while Najibullah Zadran, who was the other batsman when Nabi was run-out, finished with 67 from 69 balls with six fours and two sixes.

The two batsmen added 149 runs for the fourth wicket, but once the partnership broke at the score of 220 in the 42nd over, the remaining batsmen failed to offer any resistance as Afghanistan lost their last six wickets for 35 runs in 8.2 overs.

Brad Wheal (three for 36), Richie Berrington (three for 42) and Safyaan Sharif (two for 46) bowled excellently and ensured Afghanistan didn’t bat them out of the game.

Scotland beat Afghanistan by seven wickets, Bulawayo Athletic Club

Afghanistan 255, 49.4 overs (Mohammad Nabi 92, Najibullah Zadran 67, Mohammad Shahzad 30; Brad Wheal 3-36, Richie Berrington 3-42, Safyaan Sharif 2-46)

Scotland 256-3, 47.2 overs (Calum MacLeod 157 not out, Richie Berrington 67; Mujeeb Rahman 2-47)

Player of the match – Calum MacLeod (Sco)