Welcome to Wisden’s live match centre for the T20 World Cup 2021 encounter between Afghanistan and Scotland on October 25 in Sharjah – follow this space for live updates on the Afg vs Sco game, along with TV telecast and live streaming details.
Afghanistan and Scotland will face off in the second contest of Group 2 in the tournament.
Right. That will be that from us today. Do join us tomorrow as West Indies take on South Africa, with the defending champions hoping to kick-start their campaign and the Proteas looking to bounce back from a close defeat to Australia. Goodbye!
Summary: Mujeeb, Rashid wreak havoc after batters’ day out
When Afghanistan won the toss and elected to bat first, there were a few eyebrows raised. No team had won at Sharjah at this year’s T20 World Cup before today but Afghanistan have managed to correct that record. In fact, they have done so in some style. Their batters set the platform, with Hazratullah Zazai, Najibullah Zadran and Rahmanullah Gurbaz doing the heavy lifting. At the mid-innings stage too, it seemed that Afghanistan had enough on the board. However, with dew being a potential factor and the pitch seeming flat, Scotland still harbored a bit of hope.
Well, at least until Mujeeb Ur Rahman rocked up and sliced through them like a knife through butter. He was sensational throughout his spell and bagged his career-best T20I figures in the process. Rashid Khan mopped up the rest of the batting unit and ended with four wickets himself. In short, everything that Afghanistan would’ve dreamed, came to fruition today and considering the teams they are up against next, it seems the perfect beginning. If Afghanistan can build on this performance is another matter altogether. Today, though, they would want to savour a display that has made the rest of the T20 World Cup field sit up and take notice.
Over 10.2: Scotland 60 all out – Rashid seals the deal; Afghanistan win by 130 runs; Scotland slump to their lowest ever T20I total
And, just as we were discussing what Rashid Khan has done in the middle overs in the past few years, he pops up with another peach that bowls Brad Wheal neck and crop. Another googly that drifts in the air just a touch before snaking into the batter as he looks to waft at it. Essentially, the archetypal Rashid Khan dismissal. Afghanistan win by 130 runs – a margin that should swell their Net Run Rate and a margin that has also catapulted Afghanistan to the top of the Group 2 table.
Over 10.1: Scotland 60-9 – Rashid has three as well
Since the start of 2016, no bowler has taken as many T20 wickets as Rashid. Now, that tally stands at 393, with the next best (Imran Tahir) languishing behind at 291 wickets. In the middle overs alone, Rashid now has 255 wickets – something that justifies his status as the premier T20 bowler on the planet. Don’t count against him increasing that tally to 256 tonight!
Over 9: Scotland 54 -8 – Scotland on the brink now
Rashid might have come into the attack late but he is ensuring that he is among the wickets. The pitch is playing all sorts of tricks now and that, coupled with the dexterity of Afghanistan’s bowlers have meant that Scotland are now staring down into the abyss. Just two wickets remain between Afghanistan and victory. And, at the moment, it seems more a case of when, rather than if. By the way, had Greaves reviewed his LBW decision, he would have been let off the hook. He walked as soon as the ball struck the pad, though.
Over 8: Scotland 46-7 – Mujeeb bags a five-for
Mujeeb has been irresistible today and Scotland have simply had no answers for his artistry. He now has five, with almost all of them coming with the batters unable to read his variations. This sets Afghanistan up nicely for the tournament too, especially with their NRR also potentially gaining significant ground after today’s result. Mujeeb, meanwhile, could be a threat to a lot of teams. Mujeeb’s best T20I figures too and he has been full value for it.
Over 6.3: Scotland 38-6 – Scotland crumbling like a pack of cards
For those wondering where Rashid was, well, he was just waiting for his opportunity and allowing the stage for Mujeeb to flourish. In the first over itself, Rashid makes a mark and Afghanistan are a wicket closer to victory, although the result hasn’t been in much doubt, ever since Mujeeb picked up three in the 3rd over. Scotland might want to play for a bit of Net Run Rate now.
Over 6: Scotland 37-5 – Mujeeb scalps another
Mujeeb is having a ball in Sharjah, quite literally too. The spinner has been a step ahead of all the Scottish batters so far and has single-handedly broken the back of their run-chase. Remember, Rashid Khan has not bowled a ball in anger so far. Should be on soon though, with the Power Play done and dusted.
Over 4.3 Scotland 30-4 – Is that a bird? Is that a plane? No, it is Shahzad flying!
Scotland are spiraling now and Naveen-ul-Haq gets in on the act this time. He probes outside off stump and induces an outside edge that is snaffled up spectacularly by Shahzad, who prowls to his right and completes a one-handed grab. He wheels away in celebration and Scotland’s dressing room is a cluster of glum faces. Almost all of their main batters are now back in the shed. However, they will take heart from the fact that they recovered from a similar position against Bangladesh. So, there is some precedent.
Over 4: Scotland 28-3 – Mujeeb has three in the over; Afghanistan in dreamland
Another googly, another spinning delivery, another Umpire’s Call and another Scottish batter bites the dust. An over that has potentially tilted the scales firmly in Afghanistan’s favour and an over that also illustrates the genius of Mujeeb. Just a delivery ago, he got the ball to turn away from a similar line and length. On the sixth ball of the ball, he got it to spin back into Berrington, who was trapped on the crease and couldn’t do much. Scotland need to ensure that this doesn’t get ugly now. Berrington alone has scored 373 T20I runs for Scotland this year.
Over 3.3: Scotland 28-2 – Mujeeb is all over Scotland like a rash
After accounting for Coetzer, Mujeeb gets the better of MacLeod too. Again, he relies on his flight and for the second successive delivery, sees the ball grip and turn from the surface. Not what Scotland fans would have wanted to see, especially with Rashid Khan yet to come into the attack. Just the sight the Afghans would’ve wanted to witness though. Mujeeb on a hat-trick now!
Over 3.2: Scotland 28-1 – Mujeeb castles Coetzer
Before today’s fixture, Coetzer had managed a grand total of 72 runs in T20Is this year. Of those 72, 41 came against Oman in Scotland’s final group game. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to build on it and has fallen prey to Mujeeb’s magic. The Afghan dangled the carrot just enough to induce Coetzer into the booming drive before getting the ball to dip and rip past the inside edge. It then clattered into the stumps – much to the joy of the Afghan fielders.
Over 3: Scotland 27-0 – Scotland get off to a decent start
Afghanistan have only conceded 16 runs in the 2nd and 3rd over but the Scottish batters have just begun finding their feet. Both seem comfortable at the crease and seem to have developed a mechanism that would work for them. Coetzer is standing on off stump and waiting for anything to be played into the leg side. Munsey, meanwhile, has made a nuisance of himself by playing more reverse sweeps than anyone has ever thought of attempting.
Update: Kyle Coetzer has just survived an LBW call, which Afghanistan referred as well. The ball, though, kept exceptionally low and that is something that would occupy the minds of the Scottish batters henceforth.
Over 1: Scotland 11 – 0 – Scotland fire the warning shot
Scotland have begun aggressively because, well, they don’t really have much of a choice. Munsey has already brought out the reverse hit and that could be a sign of things to come, especially with Afghanistan tending to bowl a lot of spin during the Power Play.
Mohammad Nabi to start off proceedings with the ball, much like he did against the West Indies in the warm-up game. George Munsey on strike first up!
Afghanistan began their innings like a freight train, with Hazrataullah and Shahzad enjoying themselves thoroughly in the Power Play. Even after the field restrictions were lifted, Hazratullah continued applying pressure against the spinners. Though he perished soon after, he ensured that the momentum wasn’t lost – momentum that Rahmanullah and Najib carried forward. Scotland did have their moments, especially in the middle overs when they kept things tight for a bit. However, they didn’t have the kind of bowling consistency that has defined their campaign so far, meaning that they now have to mount a monumental batting assault to secure victory. At the half-way stage, Afghanistan seem to be favourites but Chris Greaves, when talking to the broadcaster, suggested that 190 was about par. If that is the case, Scotland might not be out of the contest and there could be some life left still! Do join us in a bit for the second innings!
Over 20: Afghanistan 190-4 – Afghanistan hammer their way to 190
Najib has put on a clinic in these past few overs and it has, almost single-handedly propelled Afghanistan to a humongous total. Nabi and Rahmanullah have played their part too and while these batters deserve credit, Scotland might be the first to admit that they didn’t quite hit the lines and lengths they required.
Over 19: Afghanistan 176-3 – Afghanistan prepare for one final assault
Josh Davey didn’t have much success in the 19th over, despite scalping Rahmanullah. The wicket only brought Nabi out to the crease, who strikes at a healthy rate of 174.33 at the death. Can the captain apply the finishing touches to a spectacular batting innings?
Update: Najibullah Zadran completes his 50 off 30 balls and he has treated the crowd at Sharjah to an absolute spectacle. He has played a chanceless innings so far and would want to finish with a customary flourish.
Over 18: Afghanistan 166-2 – Afghans on track to post highest T20 total at Sharjah this season
Scotland gambled by bowling Watt in the 18th over and were punished by Najib. As far as match-ups are concerned, this was a perplexing choice, considering Najib strikes at 162.71 against left-arm spin. But Watt has also been Scotland’s best bowler tonight so Coetzer might have weighed things up that way. Nevertheless, Afghanistan seem primed to haul the 172 Sri Lanka scored yesterday. if they do so, it will be the highest total at Sharjah this season, including the IPL and the T20 World Cup.
Over 17: Afghanistan 152-2 – Rahmanullah in on the act now
For all the chatter around Rahmanullah’s strike rate in the middle overs against spinners, he has been quite impressive against the pacers at the death. A couple of sixes in the 17th over have meant that his strike rate is up near where he would want it to be. And, of course, that Afghanistan are setting things up for a grandstand finish, with both Najib and Rahmanullah firing on all cylinders. Scotland might want to start praying….. now!
Update: Two Afghans – Hazratullah Zazai and Najibullah Zadran have breached the 100-metre maximum club at this T20 World Cup tonight. Interestingly, the two account for the three biggest hits at the 2021 edition, with each of them coming today. Some power, eh?
Over 15: Afghanistan 127-2 – Scotland staring down the barrel now
For a brief while during the middle overs, it seemed that Scotland would rein in the Afghan batters. However, with the death overs upon us, it is looking increasingly likely that Scotland would have to bowl out of their skins to keep Afghanistan to a total that can be chased down. There aren’t any demons in this track but Afghanistan do have one Rashid Khan in their line-up. For what it’s worth, Mujeeb and Nabi aren’t too shabby either. Massive few overs coming up for Scotland!
Over 14: Afghanistan 116-2 – Najibullah continues on his merry way; Rahmanullah struggling a shade
Najib has looked a man possessed so far. He has been on top of the bowlers and has used the sweep shot very well against the spinners. He has also been sitting back in his crease, as opposed to Rahmanullah, who has gone searching for the ball against the slower bowlers. Rahmanullah, though, would want to make the most of whatever pace bowling that comes his way.
Over 12: Afghanistan 98-2 – Najibullah Zadran looking dangerous
The remaining middle overs are very crucial for Afghanistan. Historically, Najibullah Zadran has struggled and strikes at only 123.43 in this phase since the start of 2019. However, if he bats through and finds himself at the death, his strike rate zings up to 200. So far, Najib has showed a bit of intent, indicating that he is setting himself up for a long haul. Scotland, meanwhile, might want to recall Greaves into the attack, considering that Najib averages a tick over 26 against leg spin.
Update: Over 9.5: Afghanistan 82-2 – Mark Watt breaks the game open
Scotland have relied on their spinners all tournament and Watt has answered their prayers today. The dismissal of Zazai could set Afghanistan back and allow the Scots the requisite time to establish a foothold in the game. This pitch is not as conducive to stroke-play as yesterday, meaning that Scotland would ideally want to restrict Afghanistan to a score under 150, which at the moment, is only 78 runs away. Plenty to ponder over the Drinks Break for Scotland but they would take heart from the fact that they have, despite Zazai’s blitz, kept themselves afloat.
Over 8: Afghanistan 67-1 – Scotland pull things back slightly
Despite the six by Zazai, Scotland seem to be coming back into the game via their spinners. The ball is just holding in the surface enough to not allow many strokes through the line. However, that means that Afghanistan will have to be very efficient with their strike rotation. In yesterday’s game, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had boundary percentages of 49.12 and 54.65, respectively. Yet, both managed to post scores in excess of 170 – a Sharjah mantra Afghanistan would do well to follow.
Over 6: Afghanistan – 55-1 – Scotland finally break through
Scotland were under the pump before the 6th over. So, from that perspective alone, they would be thrilled to have accounted for Shahzad. However, they need to keep a lid on the run-scoring post the Power Play to ensure that the Afghan run-rate is kept in check. The spinners might help in that regard but Rahmanullah, who has just walked to the crease, is also capable of hitting the ball a fair distance. This, by the way, is the phase where bowling teams usually pull things back at Sharjah.
Over 5: Afghanistan 46-0 – Zazai breaks the shackles
Scotland have been doing well to bowl according to the dimensions but there isn’t much they can do when Zazai rocks up and pulverizes a 101-metre six. That said, the six, which was also followed by a couple of boundaries has allowed Afghanistan to get up to a decent Power Play total – with an over of potential carnage still remaining. Scotland need a wicket and they need it pretty quickly. Could it be time for some leg-spin, with Greaves coming into the attack?
Over 4: Afghanistan 30-0 – Afghanistan continue building momentum
Afghanistan haven’t been as severe as they were on Leask but early indications are that Shahzad and Zazai are itching to cut loose. The ball is just sticking in the surface and Scotland are doing well to force the Afghan batters to hit to the longer side of the ground. That, however, doesn’t mean that Shahzad and Zazai will die wondering. A massive over coming up, where something has to give!
Over 2: Afghanistan 20-0 – The Afghan openers announce their arrival
Leask was primarily brought on to tackle Zazai’s threat, considering that the latter’s strike rate is the least when facing off-spin. Shahzad, though, murders off-spin and Scotland have now found that out the hard way. A good decision on paper but has perhaps not had the desired effect for Scotland. They might just start feeling the pinch now, especially with Shahzad and Zazai opening up their shoulders.
Over 1: Afghanistan 2-0 – Tidy start for Davey and Scotland
The early indications are that there is not a lot of swing on offer. The pitch might just be a touch tacky too, meaning that bowlers might want to take a cue from Davey and bowl as straight as possible. For Afghanistan, the key is to make the most of the Power Play and ensure that they have enough cushion before the pitch becomes a lot more sluggish and run-scoring becomes discernibly difficult.
Both teams stride out to the centre, with Scotland passionately singing their national anthem first. They really are living the dream, aren’t they? Afghanistan then stand together and blare out their national anthem, hoping that this is the start of a watershed tournament for them. The Afghan cricketers have gone through a lot to just be here and Nabi gets a bit emotional as the camera pans towards him too. Now, they have a chance to show that sport can indeed be a calming influence during troubled times.
Will Afghanistan rue their decision at the toss?
In the second phase of the IPL, only two times did the team batting first emerge victorious. In the T20 World Cup, no team has won batting first at Sharjah so far. Will Nabi be left ruing his decision at the toss? Or, will the likes of Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Rashid Khan and Nabi render that argument moot against a strong Scottish batting unit?
Afghanistan win the toss and bat first; No changes for Scotland
Mohammad Nabi has sprung a surprise first up and has opted to bat first – something in contrast to what captains have been wanting to do in the IPL and the early stages of the T20 World Cup. A reason could be that Afghanistan trust their bowlers to defend a score rather than asking their batters to get them out of trouble. Additionally, it could be a ploy to allow their batters to bat with more freedom and try to attack the opposition from the outset.
For Scotland, this seems the perfect way to approach the game, considering their bowlers have been magnificent so far. They are also relying on dew to play a part later in the game and that, coupled with their batting might means that Scotland would be quietly confident of registering their first T20I victory against Afghanistan.
Afghanistan XI: Mohammad Shahzad, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Asghar Afghan, Mohammad Nabi (C), Najibullah Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Karim Janat, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Naveen-ul-Haq
Scotland XI: Kyle Coetzer (C), George Munsey, Richie Berrington, Matthew Cross, Calum MacLeod, Michael Leask, Chris Greaves, Mark Watt, Safyaan Sharif, Josh Davey, Brad Wheal
The pitch being used is to one side of the square, meaning that there is a shorter boundary. Protecting the shorter boundary could actually be the key for the bowlers, considering that Sri Lanka made merry and exploited the match-ups against spinners yesterday. The pitch still looks a little patchy and might be a little slower than what it was yesterday.
Recent head-to-head favours Afghanistan
Afghanistan and Scotland met a lot of times in the mid 2010s. However, since the 2016 T20 World Cup in India, the two sides’ paths have not crossed. Incredibly, the Afghans are unbeaten in their last five fixtures against the Scots, with four of those victories coming when Afghanistan have batted first. So far at the T20 World Cup, Scotland have been brilliant at defending totals – they’ve done so against Bangladesh and PNG. Could that, in addition to their skewed record against Afghanistan prompt them to bat first at Sharjah, just to shake things up? Teams, though, have wanted to chase at the venue, with Sri Lanka hunting down Bangladesh’s total yesterday after deciding to do so.
Two classic underdog stories take centre stage
Over the past few years, Afghanistan have been dubbed the perennial underdogs. Their fairy tale, which has comprised of them emerging through a strife-torn nation and into the elite echelons of world cricket has been pretty well-documented and rightly so. Things back home haven’t improved drastically over the recent months and to an extent, have added another layer of intrigue to Afghanistan’s T20 World Cup campaign, which, lest we forget, is the first time they’ve qualified directly for the competition. This time, they aren’t the underdogs per se. Instead, they are a team expected to cause the odd flutter. Usually, these expectations weigh teams down. Can Afghanistan show that they are the exception to the norm?
Scotland, on the other hand, have perhaps taken over the mantle from Afghanistan – a rapid ascent despite being unheralded for large swathes. Much like Afghanistan have done over the years, Scotland have played with extraordinary cohesion and spirit. To an extent, the Scots have become everyone’s second favourite outfit, just by virtue of their remarkable rise. Remember, World Cups haven’t been Scotland’s biggest allies over the years. Yet, it could be a World Cup that could now shape their cricketing trajectory in the near future.
T20 World Cup 2021 Afghanistan v Scotland: Preview
On the face of it, an Afghanistan-Scotland contest might not seem as enticing as say an India-Pakistan or England-Australia game, however, the game promises to have enough cricketing thrills as any other contest. Scotland have impressed many in only their fourth appearance in the T20 World Cup, while Afghanistan would like to show everyone that the turmoil back home has had little impact on their game.
T20 World Cup 2021 Afg v Sco: Team news and injury updates
Afghanistan had a good round of warm-ups, beating West Indies comprehensively in the second game. Many of their players had a run in the park, and they don’t have any apparent injury concerns. Given, that the game is all set to take place in Sharjah, they will look to employ their spinners to best use. Naveen-ul-Haq is another player to watch out for.
T20 World Cup 2021 Afghanistan squad: Full team list for Afg
Scotland would look to continue their golden run so far in the tournament. They will hope to field their strongest side, and use their spinners like Mark Watt, Chris Greaves, and Michael Leask to their advantage in Sharjah.
T20 World Cup 2021 Scotland squad: Full team list for Sco
T20 World Cup 2021 Afghanistan v Scotland: Where to watch live
India: Star Sports Network; Disney+ Hotstar
UK & Ireland: Sky Sports Cricket, Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Mix; Sky Sports app, www.skysports.com
Pakistan: PTV Sports
Afghanistan: RTA Sports & Ariana TV
The complete list of broadcast (TV and live streaming) options for the tournament can be found here.