A collective batting effort followed by a masterly five-wicket haul from Mujeeb Ur Rahman meant that Afghanistan annihilated Scotland by 130 runs in a Group 2 match of Super 12 stage in the ICC Men's T20 World Cup at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Monday.
After scoring an imposing 190/4 in 20 overs, Mujeeb, along with Rashid Khan (4/9), spun a web around Scotland's batters, from which there was no escaping as they were bundled out for 60 in the 11th over.
The mammoth win in the opening match of the tournament is also Afghanistan's biggest win in T20Is in terms of run margin.
Chasing a mammoth target, Scotland's George Munsey began by taking three boundaries in the first nine balls of the innings. Kyle Coetzer joined the act with two boundaries against Naveen-ul-Haq in the third over.
But Rahman's entry in the fourth over turned the match on its head as he scalped three wickets. Coetzer was the first wicket to fall, clean bowled by a googly. On the next ball, Calum MacLeod was trapped lbw by another googly. Richie Berrington survived the hat-trick delivery but was trapped lbw by Rahman's googly as well. In the matter of five balls, the match swung in Afghanistan's favour.
In the next over, Matthew Cross chased a wide delivery against ul-Haq. The outside edge flew to the right of Shahzad, who dived full stretch to grab a one-handed catch. Munsey hit Mujeeb for a six but Mujeeb disturbed his stumps on the very next ball of the final over of power-play.
Scotland's batting slide continued as Rashid Khan trapped Michael Leask lbw in his first over. In the next over, Mujeeb picked his first five-wicket haul in T20Is as Mark Watt was bowled through the gate. Khan took the last three wickets to bring an end to Scotland's misery.
Earlier, Afghanistan's batters smacked 11 sixes with every batter contributing. They were off to a flying start, reaching fifty in 5.1 overs, the fastest half-century by a team in the tournament. It was down to Hazratullah Zazai and Mohammad Shahzad scoring seven boundaries between themselves. But pacer Safyaan Sharif delivered the first breakthrough for Scotland as Shahzad holed out to deep mid-wicket, ending a 54-run partnership.
Post power-play, Scotland were able to slow down as Zazai was taken out by a toe-crushing yorker from Mark Watt, which deflected from the toe-end of his bat and hit off-stump. Najibullah Zadran began with a boundary off Chris Greaves. On the other hand, Rahmanullah Gurbaz started slow but joined the run-making party by sweeping Greaves for a six followed by a paddle for four more.
From overs 15 to 18, Afghanistan hit five sixes, three of which came off Gurbaz's bat. But the partnership was broken by Josh Davey as his slower full toss was sliced by Gurbaz to extra cover. Zadran reached his fifty in 30 balls with a single. Though Zadran fell on the final ball of the innings off Sharif, he had done his work of taking Afghanistan to the highest score of the tournament so far as 63 runs came off the last five overs.
Brief scores: Afghanistan 190/4 in 20 overs (Najibullah Zadran 59, Rahmanullah Gurbaz 46, Safyaan Sharif 2/33, Mark Watt 1/23) beat Scotland 60 all out in 10.2 (George Munsey 25, Chris Greaves 12, Mujeeb Ur Rahman 5/20, Rashid Khan 4/9) by 130 runs.