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Afghanistan Keep World Cup Hopes Alive

Hamid Hassan took four wickets as Namibia collapsed in their first innings.

Afghanistan 199-5 (Shahzad 62) beat
Namibia 193 (Hassan 4-32) by 5 wickets
World Cricket League Championship, Windhoek

Afghanistan ensured that it will be a keenly contested final round of matches in the World Cricket League Championship by doing the double over Namibia today in Windhoek.

The two points they gained from the win puts them in third position in the table, with the same number of points as second-placed Netherlands and fourth-placed Scotland and only one point ahead of the UAE. Only one of those four teams can gain the one remaining automatic qualification place for the 2015 World Cup. The rest will have to compete in the official qualifier next year in New Zealand.

Namibia had looked like denying Afghanistan the crucial victory by beginning well after electing to bat. Openers Xander Pitchers and Raymond van Schoor (23) added 51 inside nine overs, with Stephan Baard then putting on a further 50 in good time with Pitchers for the second-wicket.

At 101 for one in the 22nd over, a total of well over 250 was a real possibility. However, Pitchers was stumped off Samiullah Shenwari (2-19), with new man Craig Williams then bowled by the leg-spinner.

Baard, though, found support from captain Sarel Burger, with the two getting the innings back on track and taking the score to 174 for three in the 38th over. Again a promising total was on the cards, but Hamid Hassan had other ideas.

He clean-bowled the hard-hitting Baard for 67 and then dismissed Louis van der Westhuizen (1), Nicolaas Scholtz (5) and Christi Viljoen (7) in a devastating spell. With Hamza Hotak also chipping in with the wickets of Bernard Scholtz (4) and JJ Smit (0) and Mohammad Nabi having Burger caught for 20, the hosts lost their last seven wickets for only 19 runs to be all out for 193.

Afghanistan were never likely to be unduly troubled by this total, especially once openers Mohammad Shahzad and Nawroz Mangal had shared 106 in 18 overs. However, Shahzad was caught off van der Westhuizen for 62, with Mangal following suit soon afterwards off Bernard Scholtz for 41, and when new man Gulbadin Naib made it a collapse of three for four by departing for one, Namibia may have sensed a way back.

Fortunately for the Afghans, their influential captain Mohammad Nabi was on hand to put those concerns to bed in brutal fashion. He smashed four sixes to end on 46 not out off only 23 balls as his side got home with more than 18 overs to spare to boost their net run rate.

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