Mujeeb ur Rahman returned the best figures of the T20 World Cup so far as Afghanistan thrashed Scotland in Sharjah on Monday.
The mystery spinner took five for 20 as the Afghans dominated a Scotland side who had come into the fixture in high spirits after powering their way to qualification from round one in Oman last week.
For the first half the game, it appeared as though Old Sharjah Cricket Stadium had made a comeback, such was the glut of sixes. For the second half, it was like the batters were suddenly playing on a ploughed field.
Afghanistan had first use, and Scotland’s bowlers were defenceless. The Afghans – who for years regarded this ground as their home – heaved 11 sixes, the most of the competition in a single innings so far.
Included in that were the five biggest sixes of the Super 12 phase so far. Hazratullah Zazai, who once hit six sixes in an over at this ground, started the pyrotechnics.
The left-handed opener put two balls out of the ground. That was not so tricky on one side, where the boundary measured just 57 metres. But the fact he did so in the other direction, sending a six 101 metres into the road, was mightily impressive.
After Hazratullah went for 44 from 30, Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Najibullah took up the range-hitting challenge.
Rahmanullah played club cricket at this ground for Bukhatir XI earlier this year and clearly knew the dimensions well. He hit four sixes in an innings of 46.
Najibullah hit three – including the biggest of the night – and top scored with 59, as Afghanistan amassed 190 for four from their 20 overs.
Chasing such a high total was daunting enough for Scotland. Against spinners of the pedigree of Afghanistan’s, it proved impossible.
Mujeeb’s five-wicket haul included the wickets of Kyle Coetzer, Calum MacLeod and Richie Berrington all in the space of five balls in a single over.
Once that had happened, the Scots stood no chance. Rashid Khan rammed home Afghanistan’s advantage, taking four wickets for nine as they won by 130 runs with nearly 10 overs to spare.