MacLeod’s 157* downs Afghanistan in opening-day upset

Scotland 256 for 3 (Macleod 157*, Berrington 67, Mujeeb 2-47) beat Afghanistan 255 (Nabi 92, Najibullah 67, Wheal 3-36, Berrington 3-42) by seven wickets

It only took one match to affirm the wide-open nature of the World Cup Qualifier. In a spectacular opening-day heist, Scotland downed Afghanistan by seven wickets, with Calum MacLeod scoring his sixth ODI hundred and subjecting Rashid Khan, the world’s No. 1 ODI bowler, to one of his worst days as an international cricketer.

Chasing 256, Scotland got there with 16 balls to spare, with MacLeod scoring an unbeaten 157 off 146 balls. He scored 108 off 118 against Afghanistan’s other bowlers, and 49 off 31 against Rashid’s legspin, off which he hit eight of his 24 boundaries. Rashid finished with figures of 1 for 68 in nine overs – this was the first time he had ended up with an economy rate of above 7 in his 38-match ODI career. He also scored a first-ball duck. All this happened on a day when, at 19 years and 165 days, he became the youngest man to captain an ODI side.

MacLeod came in with Scotland 16 for 1; they lost their other opener two overs later to slip to 21 for 2. Both wickets had fallen to the mystery spin of Mujeeb Ur Rahman. It was here that Richie Berrington joined MacLeod. The two proceeded to add 208 in 223 balls, with MacLeod by far the dominant partner, Berrington scoring 67 off 95 balls before falling lbw to Rashid in the 43rd over of Scotland’s innings. By then, they only needed 27 off 44 balls, a task MacLeod and George Munsey completed with ease.

Sent in to bat, Afghanistan made a plodding start, losing three wickets – two to Berrington’s medium-pace – while only scoring 49 in their first 15 overs. Berrington picked up his third wicket in the 19th over, getting Mohammad Shahzad out for an uncharacteristic 30 off 54 balls, leaving Afghanistan 71 for 4.

Afghanistan needed to stop losing wickets, but they also needed some urgency. Mohammad Nabi and Najibullah Zadran achieved both, putting on 149 for the fifth wicket in 136 balls. At the end of the 41st over, Afghanistan were 219 for 4, and a total in the 280-300 range seemed within reach. But both set batsmen fell off successive balls, Najibullah for 67 off 69 balls and then Nabi – run out – for 92 off 82.

The back-to-back wickets were a body blow to Afghanistan’s innings, their lower order collapsing in a heap to Safyaan Sharif and Brad Wheal. In all, the last six wickets fell while adding only 35 runs in 51 balls, leaving Scotland a far smaller target than they might have envisioned chasing at one point.

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