ICC Intercontinental Cup: Top position goes to Afghanistan
KABUL (Pajhwok): Afghanistan won the top position in the ICC Intercontinental Cup by defeating the Netherlands in a crucial four-day league match in The Hague, raising hopes for the war-torn country to become 10th-ranked Test playing nation.
The four-day first-class competition, an integral part of the cricket schedule for sides below the 10 Test playing countries, was a pathway to Test cricket.
After securing the top position, Afghanistan will take on the 10th-ranked Test team in an ICC Test Challenge in 2018. If the ICC Intercontinental Cup winner wins the ICC Test Challenge, then it will secure Test status until the next ICC Test Challenge, which will take place in 2022.
Earlier defending champion Ireland was leading the points table with three wins and 60 points. The Netherlands had a win and a loss for 46 points while Afghanistan had two wins and a draw for 41 points in the round-robin format.
Afghanistan defeated Scotland 1-0 in a two-ODI series and ended in a draw with Ireland in a five-ODI series before travelling to the Netherlands.
Afghanistan Cricket Board spokesman Farid Hotak told Pajhwok Afghan News the match between Afghanistan and the Netherlands began on Friday and Afghanistan won the game at about 9pm, with two days remaining.
In the four-day match, Afghanistan after winning the toss opted to bowl first, dismissing the hosts for 117 runs in their first innings.
For Afghanistan, the pick of blowers was Yemen Ahmadzai, who clinched five wickets. Dawlat Zadran took four wickets and Mirwais Ashraf one.
In reply to the Netherland’s first innings, the Afghans scored 145 runs in 48 hours and lost four wickets until stumps.
Rahmat Shah made his fifty and contributed 51 runs to his side. Other Afghan batsmen who were sent back to the pavilion included Nasir Jamal, 43, Shehzad Mohammadi, 17, and Ihsan 15.
Standing at the crease were skipper Asghar Stanikzai who increased his runs to 24 from the first day’s six.
Mohammad Nabi, on the second day, made 17 runs and was out. But Hashmat Stanikzai and Mirwais Ashraf helped Afghanistan reach 317, leaving the Netherlands to struggle with 195 extra runs in their second innings.
Shaheedi made 83 runs and Mirwais 42.
The Netherlands could not face the blitz from Afghan bowlers and the entire team collapsed at 159, with Afghanistan winning the crucial match for 36 runs and one innings.
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