World T20: Afghanistan edge out brave Scots

Scotland came bitterly close to winning their first ever World T20 match, on the first day of this year's competition.

World T20: Afghanistan edge out brave Scots
Shahzad made 61 from 39 (photo: ICC)

Scotland's search for a first ever World T20 victory continued as they lost out to Afghanistan on the opening day of the tournament, being defeated by 14 runs.

After losing the toss and being put into bowl, Scotland captain Preston Mommsen could only watch on as his side were put to the sword for much of the Afghanistan innings. The eventual winners finished up on 170-5, with Mohammad Shahzad and Asghar Stanikzai both scoring half centuries.

In response, Scotland made a bright start, openers Kyle Coetzer and George Munsey helped them race to 53-0 after just five overs. However, their chances soon deteriorated when that pair got out quickly, and they eventually finished on 156-5.

Inconsistency halts early Afghan progress

Coming into the game as overwhelming favourites, it came as no surprise that Afghanistan looked to take control early on, Noor Ali flicking a full Josh Davey delivery for six off just his fourth ball. However, Ali went soon after for a quickfire 17, enabling Scotland to restrict their opponents to 41-1 from their powerplay overs.

It was just after the powerplay, when the wheels started to come off for Mommsen and co. Shahzad and Stanikzai got going, moving swiftly to a 50 partnership, scoring 38 off the next four overs. 

Scotland celebrate a wicket (photo: ICC)
Scotland celebrate a wicket (photo: ICC)

Shazhad and Stanikzai help them to a big score

Some economic bowling from the likes of Mark Watt halted Afghanistan's progress to a certain extent in the middle overs, as Watt got the next wicket, Shahzad crashing the ball to long on, finishing on 61 from 39.

Stanikzai was still there though, having been dropped earlier in his innings, and he battled on for his side - despite Gulbadin Naib and Mohammad Nabi falling around him. Eventually finishing on 55* himself, Stanikzai was there for the last few overs as Afghanistan plundered 37 runs off their final 18 balls to post a dangerous 170.

Coetzer and Munsey get Scotland off to a flyer

Whether or not Scotland were going to challenge that score rested largely on the shoulders of their two openers, who started extremely well, Coetzer and Munsey sharing the strike amicably to reach 60 without loss by the end of the powerplay. Both didn't look afraid to play their shots, and soon found their rhythm despite taking just two runs from the first over.

Neither looked like they were in the mood to slow down either, 17 more taken from the two overs that followed the powerplay's conclusion, only for each opener to get out within the space of two balls. 

Scots lose openers, and the game

Coetzer was the first to go, caught after one too many slogs, perishing for 40 from 27. Munsey couldn't stick around either, he got out lbw for a slightly higher score than his partner, 41 from 29.

Still, it was a promising start for the Scots, who had made 94-2 from their first 10. Losing Coetzer and Munsey so quickly seemed to have knocked their confidence though, or perhaps their concentration, as Calum MacLeod was ran out following a breakdown in communicaton.

The boundaries dried up soon after, batsmen struggling to get in without the powerplay, and Scotland needed 52 runs off their final five overs, with six wickets remaining after Richie Berrington went for eight.

52 from five became 39 from three, and Scotland never really looked like getting there. Matt Machan looked to take matters into his own hands, hitting a six off the penultimate ball of the 18th over to give his team half a chance.

Good running off Nabi's tight over kept them in it, only until Machan was caught, not getting hold of a full toss, out for an impressive 36 from 31.

Scotland ended their 20 overs on 156-5. An impressive effort, but not enough, and they face an arguably tougher test next in Zimbabwe, who saw off Afghanistan's next opponents Honk Kong earlier in the day.