Nagpur, March 12 (IANS) The Afghanistan cricket team came out with a commendable performance to defeat Test playing nation Zimbabwe by 59 runs at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium at Jamtha here on Saturday to qualify for the main event of the World Twenty20 which will begin on March 15.
Opting to bat, Afghanistan put up a challenging total of 186/6 in 20 overs with Mohammad Nabi top-scoring with 52. In reply, Zimbabwe were bowled out for 127 in 19.4 overs. The Asian team won all three of their qualifying matches against Zimbabwe, Scotland and Hong Kong to progress to the Super 10 stage of the tournament.
This will be the third time Afghanistan will play the main event of World T20 in six editions.
Afghanistan took off well with wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad (40) and Noor Ali Zadran (10) striking a 49-run partnership for the opening wicket. However, a good spell of bowling from Zimbabwe pacer Tinashe Panyangara (3/32) saw the South Asian team being reduced from 49 for no loss to 63/4.
That is when middle order batsmen Samiullah Shenwari (43) and Nabi struck an incredible 98-run fifth-wicket partnership off just 66 balls to not just rescue their team but also help them post a very strong total. A total of 25 extras, which included as many as 17 wides, also did not help Zimbabwe.
The African outfit never looked comfortable in their chase as they kept losing wickets right from the start. Almost all Zimbabwe batsmen got starts but unfortunately the highest score came from their No.10 Panyangara, who remained not out on 17.
Afghanistan will now take part in Group 1 of Super 10 which also includes defending champions Sri Lanka, South Africa, former winners the West Indies and England.
Brief scores: Afghanistan 186/6 in 20 overs (Mohammad Nabi 52, Samiullah Shenwari 43, Mohammad Shahzad 40; Tinashe Panyangara 3/32) beat Zimbabwe 127 in 19.4 overs (Rashid Khan 3/11, Hamid Hassan 2/11).