‘My family is in pain’: The refugee tragedy driving Afghanistan to glory as World Cup semis beckon after defeating Dutch
Afghanistan skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi dedicated their win to the plight of his nation’s millions of refugees after they kept their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup semi-finals alive after beating the Netherlands by seven wickets in a low-scoring group game.
The victory on Friday pushed the Afghans to fifth in the standings on eight points, behind New Zealand only on net run-rate. The top four teams will move into the semis.
Afghanistan had won only one game in two previous World Cups, but the Asian side now have four wins in the tournament in India, having also beaten defending champions England, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
“Of course we are 100 per cent trying our best to make the semi-finals. If that happens that will be a big achievement for our country,” Afghanistan skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi said after leading the run-chase with an unbeaten fifty.
“I lost my mother three months ago, so my family is in pain. That would be a big achievement, first of all to our country and then to my family also.
“Right now a lot of refugees are struggling. We are with them in this tough time, I dedicate this win to refugees who are in pain.”
There are more than four millions Afghan migrants and refugees in Pakistan who have fled the war-torn nation in recent years.
Around 1.7 million undocumented Afghan refugees have been ordered to leave the country next week and face an uncertain future.
Chasing 180 for victory after the Netherlands won the toss and opted to bat first, Afghanistan were 2-55 but Rahmat Shah scored a breezy 52 off 54 balls to set the platform for a comfortable chase.
Shahidi made an unbeaten 56 to guide Afghanistan home in the 32nd over, smashing the winning runs with his sixth boundary.
Earlier, the Netherlands won the toss and opted to bat first but Mujeeb Ur Rahman struck in the first over when he trapped opener Wesley Barresi lbw to claim his 100th ODI wicket.
Shahidi had praised Afghanistan’s batting and bowling in the victory, but it was their fielding which restricted the Dutch to a low total as the next four batters were all run out after mix-ups.
Max O’Dowd (42) looked set for a big score with nine fours but was run out by fine work in the deep from Azmatullah Omarzai, who shattered the stumps with a direct hit as the opener’s dive was in vain.
Captain Scott Edwards — top scorer for the Dutch at the tournament — was run out first ball by Afghan keeper Ikram Alikhil when he played a shot and stepped out of the crease not knowing where the ball was.
“Definitely not ideal, four run outs in our top five is hard to come back from. I thought we started well and set ourselves up for a big total but gave it away,” Edwards said.
“(We thought) 280 would have been a good score. We’ve done well batting first, we’ve been good defending scores.”
Sybrand Engelbrecht was the lone middle-order batter to provide resistance with a patient 58 but the Dutch were all out for 179 in the 47th over, with Alikhil involved in six dismissals and Mohammad Nabi picked up three wickets.
Afghanistan next play Australia and South Africa. The Netherlands, who are eighth, play England and hosts India.