Afghanistan moved to within just one victory of a place in the World Cup 2015 after beating Kenya by eight wickets in the first of two ODIs at Sharjah. (AFP Photo)
Sharjah: Afghanistan moved to within just one victory of a place in the World Cup 2015 after beating Kenya by eight wickets in the first of two one-day internationals at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.
Kenya chose to bat but were skittled out for 89 runs in 37.5 overs, Hamid Hassan claiming 4-19.
In reply, Nawroz Mangal hit three fours and four sixes in a 60-ball 52, and Mohammad Shahzad scored a 41-ball 33 as Afghanistan achieved victory for the loss of two wickets inside 18 overs. The two openers put on 79 runs for the first wicket in just over 16 overs.
The win has moved Afghanistan to within striking distance of the crucial second spot in the competition, only one point behind the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Netherlands.
Should Afghanistan win the second ODI on Friday, also in Sharjah, they would climb to 19 points, secure second position behind Ireland and qualify for their maiden ICC Cricket World Cup.
However, if Afghanistan lose Friday's 50-over match - the last of the competition, second-ranked UAE will retain their position and qualify for their first ICC Cricket World Cup since 1996.
"It's a big achievement for Afghanistan cricket and Afghanistan to qualify for the World Cup in 2015," Afghan captain Mohammed Nabi said. We've got one more game left, and if we win on Friday, we will celebrate - the team will be celebrating and the whole nation will be celebrating that win."
Kenya coach Robin Brown said his young, developing side could only benefit from playing in final round encounters.
"It's still really a young side, and a bit inexperienced. We've got a very good development programme coming through. The board assists them, so I think there is room for improvement, but I think it is definitely working.
"We will try and do the UAE a favour on Friday by trying to spoil the party for Afghanistan!"
Kenya: 89 all out in 37.5 overs (Morris Ouma 24, Ragheb Aga 18; Hamid Hassan 4 for 19, Samiullah Shinwari 2 for 14, Shahpur Zadran 2 for 16)
Afghanistan: 95 for 2 in 17.5 overs (Nawroz Mangal 52 not out, Mohammad Shahzad 33; Hiren Varaiya 2 for 12)
Result: Afghanistan beat Kenya by eight wickets
Remaining fixture: October 4, 2nd ODI, Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah