Afghanistan had Gulbadin Naib and Najibullah Zadran to thank for as they kept their World Cup qualification hopes alive with a five-wicket victory over the UAE on Tuesday.
Chasing 177 after veteran batsman Shaiman Anwar top-scored with 64, Afghanistan were in real trouble at 54-5 when Mohammed Nabi departed in the 15th over.
But Naib and Zadran came together at a vital time with a 124-run stand for the sixth wicket that sealed their first victory in the Super Six stage and kept their slim hopes of reaching the 2019 showpiece event. Afghanistan play Ireland in their final group match on Friday but even a win for either side may not be enough to claim the top two spots in the table.
With the winner of Wednesday’s match between the West Indies and Scotland reaching the final and a place in the 2019 World Cup, if Zimbabwe beat the UAE on Thursday, then the thosts will claim the second qualifying spot.
Naib played a patient unbeaten 74-run knock. Facing 97 balls, the opener only found the boundary four times while hitting two sixes. His strike-partner Zadran hit 63 off 64 deliveries with five fours and two sixes.
Their knocks proved crucial as Mohammad Shahzad (3), Samiullah Shenwari (2) and Asghar Stanikzai (4), who returned after recovering from injury were among the batsmen to have struggled against the UAE bowlers.
Mohammad Naveed (2-37) and Qadeer Ahmed (2-38) claimed two wickets while Ahmed Raza added another scalp.
Earlier, the UAE batsman failed to make an impact as Rashid Khan took figures of 5-41, while Dawlat Zadran claimed 3-45. After being 18-3, Suri (22) was the only top-four batsman to reach double figures before Anwar continued his good form against Afghanistan with a fourth consecutive ODI half-century.
The 39-year-old hit four fours and one six in his 87 balls while Naveed smashed 45 from 20 deliveries.
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