Najibullah, Rahmat steer Afghanistan to 207 vs Austraia

Bristol: Afghanistan rode on Najibullah Zadran’s half-century and Rahmat Shah’s 43 to set a 208-run target for defending champions Australia in their World Cup opener as Pat Cummins (3/40) and Adam Zampa (3/60) rattled the Afghan batting line-up at the County Ground here on Saturday.

The war-torn nation got off to a worst possible start after opting to bat first, losing openers Mohammad Shahzad (0) and Hazratullah Zazai (0) with just five runs on the board before Shah came to his side’s rescue. Shan stablised the innings with a valiant 51-run partnership with Hashmatullah Shahidi (18 off 34), taking Afghanistan past the 50-run mark.

Just when the duo looked like settling down, leg-spinner Zampa came up with the breakthrough, packing back Shahidi in the 14th over. Afghanistan then lost Shah and Mohammad Nabi (7) in quick succession with the scorecard reading 77/5 in 20.2 overs.

With the so called minnows looking to succumb for a paltry total, Zadran and captain Gulbadin Naib (31) took the driver’s seat, taking Afghanistan past the three-figure mark in the 26th over.

Marcus Stoinis finally broke the partnership by ending Naib’s stay in the 34th over. Just four balls later, he dismissed Zadran (51; 49 balls, 4×7, 6×2) to put Afghanistan in deep trouble.

Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman then chipped in with 27 and 13 runs, respectively, to help Afghanistan post a fighting total of 207 before being bowled out in 38.2 overs.

Brief scores: Afghanistan: 207 all out in 38.2 overs (Najibullah Zadran 51, Rahmat Shah 43; Pat Cummins 3/40, Adam Zampa 3/60) vs Australia