Gurbaz century sets up second Afghanistan victory

Afg vs Netherlands

The second match of the Netherlands’ Super League series against Afghanistan largely followed the pattern of the first, but this time it was opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz’s second ODI century which set up the Afghans’ series-clinching 48-run victory.

The Dutch again performed creditably enough, but their inexperience was all too evident when they were chasing their opponents’ 237 for six, and they were eventually dismissed for 189, just three more than they had managed in Friday’s opening game.

Their cause was not helped by a couple of poor umpiring decisions which might well have been overturned had DRS been available, but in truth the batters’ inability to create any momentum against Afghanistan’s persistent six-man attack was a much more significant factor in the outcome.

The Dutch bowlers once again did well in the back end of the Afghan innings, conceding only 53 runs in the last ten overs and claiming four wickets after Gurbaz and Hashmatullah Shahidi had steered their side to 184 for two at that stage.

Gurbaz was uncharacteristically cautious for much of the initial power play, held in check by some accurate bowling from Viv Kingma and Fred Klaassen – including Klaassen’s dismissal of Usman Ghani with his first delivery – but thereafter he took full advantage of anything loose, hitting six fours and three sixes in his 127-ball 103.

He and Rahmat Shah (35) put on 83 for the second wicket, and then Hashmat joined him in a third-wicket stand of 106 which seemed at one point to have given Afghanistan the prospect of a total in excess of 250.

Seelaar was again outstandingly economical, just 27 runs coming from his eight overs, while Philippe Boissevain maintained the pressure well with two for 39, including the wickets of Rahmat, well beaten and stumped by Scott Edwards, and Gurbaz.

Ryan Klein, brought into the side to make his international debut in place of Brandon Glover, suffered early on from Gurbaz’s aggression, but was ultimately rewarded by bowling Hashmat for 54, and finished with one for 42.

Afg vs Netherlands
The captains at the toss ahead of Game 2 (Photo: Afghanistan Cricket Board)

Needing 238 to win, the Dutch needed a good start, but they suffered an early, somewhat controversial setback when Musa Nadeem was given out caught behind down the leg side off Mujeeb ur Rahman with the total on 21.

Colin Ackermann came in, hit a lovely straight drive for four, and again departed prematurely, driving the left-armer Fareed Ahmad uppishly to Gulbadin Naib at cover.

Bas de Leede now joined Edwards, who had picked up where he left off on Friday, and this pair proceeded to add 90 for the third wicket.

But it took them 26 overs to do it, and by the time De Leede was bowled by Fareed for 34, laboriously compiled from 83 deliveries, the required rate had crept up to over seven an over.

No doubt this was a tribute to the consistent accuracy of the Afghan bowlers, the pace of Yamain Ahmadzai and Fareed alternating with the spin of Mujeeb, Sharafuddin Ashraf and Rashid Khan, but it was also evidence of the batters’ awareness of the limitations of this inexperienced Dutch line-up.

There are, to be fair, few sides in the world who can afford to take liberties with Mujeeb and Rashid, but with no big hitters in the middle to lower order and no real weak link in the Afghan attack, Edwards and De Leede were left with few options other than to tough it out.

Edwards again showed himself to be the most accomplished batter in the side, his 86 coming from 120 deliveries and including nine fours before he was trapped leg-before (another decision which might well have gone upstairs) by the persistent Yamin.

His fifty had come from 67 deliveries, but it was a measure of the control exercised by the Afghan attack that the remaining 36 came from a further 53 balls.

Thereafter it was largely one-way traffic: Boris Gorlee got off the mark by driving Mujeeb to the midwicket boundary and Saqib Zulfiqar produced a cover drive off Yamin which was a sweetly timed as anything all day, but in between Seelaar had been run out, and in the end the last five wickets fell for 17 runs, Mujeeb cleaning up the tail as Rashid had done on Friday and finishing with four for 32.

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