Dunedin: Top-order batsman Samiullah Shenwari struck a gritty 96 to pave the way for Afghanistan's historic one-wicket win against Scotland in a nail-bitting Pool A match of the cricket World Cup, here today.
Chasing 211 for a win at the University Oval, Afghanistan were in dire straits at 97 for seven, before Shenwari played the innings of his life to help the Mohammad Nabi-led side post their first World Cup victory in their maiden appearance with three balls to spare.
Shenwari stitched crucial partnerships with tailenders and the team got much-needed help from No.10 Hamid Hassan (15 not out) and last-man Shapoor Zadran (12 not out), who stood unbeaten for the final 19 runs of the win.
Opener Javed Ahmadi also made a useful contribution up the order for the Afghans with a run-a-ball 51, a knock which was decorated with eight boundaries.But the star of the day was Shenwari. He first joined hands with Dawlat Zadran (9) and then Hassan to raise the hopes of an Afghan win before Hassan and Shapoor finished off the chase with three balls to spare.
Shenwari played 147 balls and struck seven boundaries and five huge hits over the fence during his career-best knock.
Earlier, Majid Haq (31) and Alasdair Evans (28) shared valuable 62 runs for the ninth wicket to lift Scotland to 210, their highest cricket World Cup score in three appearances.
In pursuit of the target, Shenwari added 35 runs with Dawlat (9) to first stabilise the chase and then shared vital 60 runs off 71 balls with Hassan to take his side near the finishing line before perishing in the 47th over.
Shenwari though made the match after he clobbered off-spinner Haq for three huge sixes on the leg side to bring the equation down but he fell in fifth ball of the same over. He was caught by Josh Davey at deep midwicket boundary while going for another big hit.Shenwari's dismissal brought Afghanistan's last pair at the crease and from there on a win looked improbable for the Asian minnows.
But Hassan and Shapoor had other plans as they batted sensibly and picked up singles and twos without taking any risks to take Afghanistan home.