Afghanistan will head into the cricket World Cup with momentum after downing a spirited United Arab Emirates by 14 runs in the teams’ last warmup match in Melbourne on Friday. (Full Coverage| Venues | Fixtures)
A match that had meandered for much of a steamy day at Melbourne’s Junction Oval sprang to life late in the afternoon as the dogged Emiratis scrambled hard to reel in their opponents’ 308-9.
All-rounders Rohan Mustafa (24) and Amjad Javed (18) mounted a lusty eighth wicket stand to push UAE within 20 runs of victory, but paceman Dawlat Zadran intervened to bowl Javed and the Middle Eastern minnows succumbed quickly thereafter.
Paceman Aftab Alam took 3-43 from his 6.2 overs to be the pick of the Afghanistan bowlers, including the match-winning wicket of tail-ender Saqlain Haider for one.
All-rounder Javed, one of the few home-grown Emirati players in the side and an airline cargo supervisor away from the game, took 4-39 to lead the UAE bowling.
Left-handed batsman Khurram Khan, the team’s 43-year-old talisman, sparkled with an 86 before being trapped lbw by Alam.
Afghanistan were on the back foot early on a steamy day at the Junction Oval and slumped to 50-3 when Javed removed number three batsman Nawroz Mangal for 16 after also capturing opener Javed Ahmadi for 12.
Samiullah Shenwari steadied the innings with a controlled 58, allowing fellow middle order batsman Najibullah Zadran (46) and all-rounder Mirwais Ashraf (34 not out) to set up an imposing total.
Afghanistan will head to Canberra seeking to upset Bangladesh in their World Cup opener on Feb. 18, while UAE take on Zimbabwe in Nelson, New Zealand the day after.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines