On the third day of 5-day first-class final between Scotland and Afghanistan for the ICC Intercontinental Cup, the Afghanis turned out a sensational performance to first bowl out the Scots for 82 and then successfully chase down them 124-run target with 7 wickets to spare. With that showing, Afghanistan emerges at the Intercontinental Cup champions and add another feather to their cap in the league of associate cricket countries.
Resuming from a pitiful overnight score of 64/6 in their second innings, Scotland was unable to recover from the slump. Majid Haq, Gordon Drummond and Ross Lyons fell in quick succession to the express pace of Mirwais Ashraf, while his seamer partner Hamid Hassan accounted for the wicket of Ray Berrington earlier on. Scotland were thus, all out for a sorry total of 82 and a far cry from their first innings score of 212. Hassan, Ashraf and Samiullah Shenwari each took three wickets to topple Scotland and set their side a target of 124 to win.
In their second innings, Afganistan got off to a passable start with opener Karim Sadiq the first to go with the score at 22. Mathew Parker accounted for his wicket. Then the other opener Shabir Noori, and Mohammad Shahzad batted with character to take their side to 79 before Lyons had Noori caught behind for 35. The foundation had been laid for Shahzad and Nawroz Mangal to press ahead. The duo took Afghanistan past 100 in just the 20th over, but at 108, Mangal was lbw to Parker for a pacy 17. All the worries of a sudden collapse were set aside with Shahzad on an unbeaten on 56 and Mohammad Nabi with 6 not out, taking Aghanistan to a thumping 7-wickct victory.
The match began with Afganistan severely pegging back Scotland in the latter's first innings. With both openers, Fraser Watts and Preston Mommsen going cheaply and one-down bat Kyle Coetzer out for a duck, the Scots were against the ropes at 3/19. Then there was a brief recovery staged by Ray Berrington and Neil McCullum before the former went for 29 with Scotland at 51/4. McCullum then built small but useful partnerships with the remaining batsmen when at 97/8, he hit upon on a reliable partner in Simon Smith. The two put on a stand of over 100 runs before Smith finally went for 36 with the score at 204/9. Soon after, Scotland folded for 212 with McCullum stranded on an unbeaten 104.
In their reply, the Afghanis got off to a slightly more steady start than Scotland. Both openers - Karim Sadiq and Shabir Noori - got into double figures, before Parker got the former's wicket. Afghanistan ended Day 1 on 18/1. On Day 2, Berrington removed Noori early. But the middle order kept up the momentum with Mirwais Ashraf making a breezy 21 before he was out to Haq; Shahzad making 10 before he went to Berrington; Asghar Stanikzai adding 26 before Haq got his wicket as well and Nawroz Mangal left to build small partnership with the latter order before perishing for 56. With his dismissal, Afghanistan were looking precarious at 165/7. The tail couldn't deal with the pressure and collapsed for 171. Scotland had thus gained a crucial lead of 41 runs.
But all the initiative they had wrested in the first phase of the match was undone in the next. Scotland got off to a decent enough start, losing Mommsen to Shewari for 9 with 22 runs on the board. There was even some resistance at the top with Watts making 29 before Shenwari accounted for his wicket. But when Kyle Coetzer was run out for 11 and with the score was 55/3, his departure triggered a middle order collapse. Hamid Hassan took the two key wickets of Neil McCullum and Mathew Parker for ducks while Shenwari got Gregor Maiden out for 4, reducing the Scots to 64/6 at stumps on Day 2.