Sharjah, Oct 4: Afghanistan created history by qualifying for the ICC World Cup 2015 for the very first time. Afghanistan won their last Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship match against Kenya to earn an automatic qualification for the ICC's flagship event in Australia and New Zealand.
At the Sharjah Cricket Ground on Friday, Afghanistan bowlers set up victory for the team. They dismissed Kenya for a paltry 93 in 43.3 overs. Despite an early loss in the chase, Afghanistan won by seven wickets. Mohammad Nabi hit the winning runs - a boundary in the 21st over. It was fine all-round show by Nabi who had earlier taken two wickets. Nabi remained unbeaten on 46 off 42 with 3 fours and 2 sixes.
Afghanistan had to win today's match to qualify. They started the game with 17 points and fourth in the table. But with today's success, they pipped United Arab Emirates (18 points) and The Netherlands (18). Ireland, who topped the table with 24 points had already sealed a spot in World Cup. Afghanistan were second with 19.
Overall, this is Afghanistan's third time in ICC World event. They had previously qualified for ICC World Twent20 in 2010 and 2012. World Cup 2015 will be held from February 14 to March 29.
Today's win was Afghanistan's sixth in a row in 50-over cricket. In the World Cup draw, Afghanistan will be in Pool A alongside four-time champions Australia and co-hosts New Zealand, as well as Bangladesh, England and Sri Lanka. Qualifier 3, also part of Pool A, will be confirmed in February next year, during the final of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier New Zealand 2014.
If Afghanistan had lost today, it would have sent UAE to the World Cup. Both teams are coached by former Pakistan fast bowlers. Afghanistan is coached by Kabir Khan while Aqib Javed is in-charge of UAE.
Left-arm spinner Hamza Hotak was the pick of the Afghan bowlers with 3/19 in 10 overs. The 22-year-old Hotak, playing only his sixth ODI, impressed.
Offspinner Karim Sadiq was also excellent with the ball. In his 7-over spell, he took two wickets for 10 runs with two maidens. Another offspinner Nabi dismissed two batsmen for 10 runs in 8.3 overs with 4 maidens.
Opening fast bowler Hamid Hassan was the other successful bowler with 2/11 in 7 (3 maidens). In all, Afghanistan bowled 11 maidens.
Kenya were 16/3 in 16.1 overs but recovered through Morris Ouma (39) and Rakep Patel (18). But when Patel departed in the 30th over, the rest of the batsmen crumbled. From 69/4 in 30 overs, Kenya innings folded for 93.
Only Ouma and Patel managed to reach double-digit scores. The third best contribution for the innings came through extras (12).
Kenya 93 all out in 43.3 overs (Morris Ouma 39, Rakep Patel 18, Hamza Hotak 3/19, Hamid Hassan 2/11, Karim Sadiq 2/10, Mohammad Nabi 2/10) lost to Afghanistan 96/3 in 20.5 overs (Mohammad Nabi 42 not out, Nawroz Mangal 19, Shem Ngoche 2/30)
Pool A: England, Australia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Qualifier 2 (Afghanistan), Qualifier 3
Pool B: South Africa, India, Pakistan, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Qualifier 4