Cricket: Coetzer’s 133 no match for Afghanistan

A BRILLIANT century from Kyle Coetzer proved in vain last night as Scotland’s World Cup qualifying hopes were dealt a second blow by Afghanistan.

The Saltires entered the clash at Sharjah Stadium looking to avenge Wednesday’s heavy defeat and stay ahead of their rivals in the bid for automatic qualification for the 2015 global event.

However, they failed to build on Coetzer’s heroic 133 and were unable to contain the Afghan batsmen who reached 260-runs with five wickets and eight balls to spare.

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Having put themselves in with a chance, the Scots needed to make an early breakthrough to raise doubts in the Afghan ranks. Instead, Mo Shahzad came out with all guns blazing as his side raced to 37-0 in only four overs.

Scotland’s experiment of opening the bowling with off-spinner Matt Machan had merit but Shahzad helped himself to two boundaries off the Sussex man, even if the second one came off the edge of his bat.

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The faster bowlers fared no better as Shahzad blazed his way to a 34-ball 48 with five boundaries and three sixes. His departure, giving a first wicket to ODI debutant Rob Taylor, served to stem the flow but Afghanistan were already ahead of the asking rate and needed to take few risks.

Scotland’s bowlers had intermittent success as skipper Gordon Drummond took a return catch to remove Wednesday’s centurion Nawroz Mangal for 30 and David Murphy produced a smart stumping off Josh Davey to account for Asghar Stanikzai.

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When Iain Wardlaw had Rahmat Shah caught by Richie Berrington, Afghanistan still needed 100 for victory.

However, skipper Mohammad Nabi (51) and Sami Shenwari (30no) guided them towards the target with a stand of 72 before Gulbodin Naib (21no) struck the winning boundary.