Afghanistan go one-up against battling Dutch in Doha

SHARJAH, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - OCTOBER 22: Pieter Seelaar of Netherlands cuts a dejected figure following the ICC Men's T20 World Cup match between Sri Lanka and Netherlands at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on October 22, 2021 in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Matthew Lewis-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

Short of match practice and missing nearly half a first-choice side, the Netherlands battled hard in difficult conditions in their Super League match in Doha on Friday, but ultimately succumbed to the skills of Afghanistan’s renowned spin twins Rashid Khan and Mujeeb ur Rahman, and lost by 32 runs.

Also decisive were the contributions with the bat of Rahmat Shah (70) and skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi (73), who created a solid platform at 141 for two, although the Dutch attack maintained its discipline and did well in the end to restrict the Afghans to 222 for eight.

Viv Kingma struck the first blow after Pieter Seelaar, in his 250th match in Dutch colours, had won the toss and elected to field, inducing the menacing Rahmanullah Gurbaz to play on in the third over with the total on just 16.

It might have been an even better start had Kingma not overstepped when he bowled Usman Ghani in his following over; with a gusty wind blowing down the ground, frequently dislodging the bails until finally the umpires dispensed with them altogether, it was understandably difficult to establish a rhythm, although both Fred Klaassen and, when he replaced Kingma, Bas de Leede, did well in containing the batters’ aggressive instincts.

Afghanistan reached 34 for one in the initial powerplay, and Seelaar soon turned to leg-spinner Philippe Boissevain, who was despatched over his head for six by Rahmat but was compensated with the wicket of Usman, well caught on the long on boundary by Colin Ackermann for 24.

That brought Hashmat in to join Rahmat, and with Seelaar frequently rotating his bowlers, so well did Boissevain, Kingma, Klaassen, Ackermann and the captain himself keep the batters in check that there was no boundary for the Afghans between the 20th over and the 35th.

Rahmat’s innings was not flawless: Edwards missed a stumping chance when he was on 42, and at 52 he survived what appeared to be a clean catch off Seelaar by Boris Gorlee, diving forward at deep midwicket, but the ball was ruled by the TV umpire to have made contact with the ground.

No sooner had that boundary drought been ended with the reintroduction of Boissevain than Ackermann trapped Rahmat in front, his 70 coming from 102 deliveries and including three fours and two sixes.

The total was still only 159 for three when Afghanistan started their final ten overs, and almost immediately Klaassen had Najibullah Zadran leg-before for 9; Brandon Glover took a return catch in the following over to remove debutant Shahidullah Kamal, and at 168 for five the Dutch were back in the game.

But Hashmat was still there, soon reaching a patient fifty, and he and the veteran Gulbadin Naib proceeded to add 46 runs in 39 deliveries before Gulbadin fell to a brilliant catch on the midwicket boundary by Musa Ahmad, who threw the ball into the air before setting foot outside the rope and then came smartly back to complete the dismissal.

Glover removed Rashid with the penultimate delivery of the innings and then Hashmat, who holed out to Boissevain at cover and whose 73 had come from 94 balls and included four fours and two sixes.

Glover finished with three for 43, but the pick of the bowlers were again Klaassen with two for 39 and Seelaar, whose none for 41 did him less than justice, while Boissevain, though fairly expensive overall, did well in the middle overs.

Set 223 to win on a pitch on which scoring was never easy, began promisingly against the raw, rangy pace of Yamin Ahmadzai and the off-breaks of Mujeeb, Scott Edwards and Musa reaching 32 before the latter failed to get on top of a drive off Yamin and hit a straightforward catch to Shahidullah at cover.

Ackermann again shaped well, hitting two sweetly-timed boundaries before edging Mujeeb to Gulbadin at slip, and then De Leede was trapped in front by Rashid in his first over – a decision which might well have gone upstairs had DRS been available – to leave the Dutch on 70 for three.

Edwards, though, looked comfortable, having reached 37 from 40 deliveries, and he was now joined by Seelaar.

Hashmat was relying on his four-man spin attack, deploying Sharafuddin Ashraf and Shahidullah as well as Rashid and Mujeeb, but Edwards and Seelaar added 51 in 14 overs before Mujeeb returned and bowled the Dutch keeper for a well-made, 82-ball 68, his second ODI half-century.

The required rate was steadily increasing, and Gorlee, on debut, found himself pitted against the wiles of Rashid Khan.

Seelaar was next to go, bowled by Yamin for 32, and now the Dutch needed seven an over in the final ten.

With Yamin, Mujeeb and Rashid all having overs in hand Hashmat was able to maintain the pressure, and after looking remarkably composed in the circumstances Gorlee was run out trying for an impossible leg-bye off Yamin.

Rashid bowled Saqib Zulfiqar and Boissevain in successive overs, and the innings ended with two more run-outs, the first of them a low comedy moment with Kingma, looking for a possible second off an overthrow, falling to a direct hit by Rashid.

Yamin and Mujeeb were the spearhead of the Afghan victory, removing four of the Dutch top five and finishing with two for 34 and two for 39 respectively, although Rashid claimed three for 31 and Sharafuddin Ashraf’s nine overs for 23 played an important part on clamping the brakes on in the middle of the innings.

For Seelaar’s men it was a disappointing outcome after fighting hard in the field, but there were enough encouraging signs to keep them interested in the two remaining fixtures on Sunday and Tuesday.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

seventeen + 14 =