Samiullah Shenwari played an innings for the ages, before Shapoor Zadran, after doing the bulk of the damage with the white ball in his hand, hit the most dramatic and historic of fours to give Afghanistan a thrilling everybody-was-on-the-edge-of-their-seats one-wicket victory over a shell-shocked Scotland.
Scotland's wait for their first ever World Cup win continues, but it was all smiles for Afghanistan, as they pulled off victory from the jaws of defeat in Dunedin on Thursday.
Both sides would have looked at this match as their best opportunity to notch their first ever World Cup win, and in a match which swayed one way and then the other, and then back again, it was Afghanistan who came out on top in the end.
That win was initially set up by the bowlers, as Afghanistan, choosing to field first, restricted the Scots to just 210 all out in their 50 overs – the first time they have even gone past 200 in a CWC match. The pace-duo Zadrans were the ones to do the damage as Shapoor (10-1-38-4) and Dawlat (10-1-29-3) wreaked havoc in another impressive performance from the quicks.
In reply, Afghanistan stumbled and tumbled just like Scotland, before a truly outstanding 96 from Samiullah Shenwari (96, 147b, 7x4, 5x6), gave them hope, hope which turned into utter delight as Shapoor carted one to the square-leg boundary in the third ball of the final over of the match.
Afghanistan's chase began quite well, with Javed Ahmadi getting off to a flier to put his team well on course for a comfortable win. Ahmadi's run-a-ball 51 (8x4) should have acted as the perfect platform for the rest of the batsmen to bat away the remaining runs, but Afghanistan's penchant for batting collapses continued, as two wickets in three balls brought Scotland right back into the game at the University Oval.
Nawroz Mangal (7, 13b), a mere spectator at the other end as Ahmadi made merry, was the first victim of Evans, who found a way through the gate to smash into the stumps. Three balls later and Evans had his second wicket, with the Scotland bowler inducing an outside edge off Asghar Stanikzai.
It would have been quite easy for Afghanistan, at their first World Cup, to go into panic mode, but Ahmadi and Samiullah Shenwari ensured there would be no more wicket bursts to follow immediately with a 39-run partnership in ten overs.
However, that partnership ended in the 19th over, as Ahmadi's wicket in the first ball of that over, triggered another collapse.
Ahmadi was followed by skipper Mohammad Nabi, Afsar Zazai, Najibullah Zadran and Gulbadin Naib in the next five overs –the first three of them strangely falling in the last ball of their respective overs – and it looked like it was curtains for Afghanistan from there, with the team needing another 114 runs with just three wickets in hand.
Shenwari refused to give up, though, holding one end up and egging his No.10 Hamid Hassan to hang on at the other end as long as possible. It seemed to be working too as Afghanistan, courtesy Shenwari, edged closer and closer to the target, with the batsman taking his team to within 19 off the last 20 deliveries courtesy three sixes in four balls as the partnership for the 9th wicket bulged to 60 runs.
However, Majid Haq, the victim of those sixes, bit back in tremendous fashion a ball later, as Shenwari, looking for four sixes out of five, holed out in the deep.
With Afghanistan needing 19 more runs in as many deliveries with only a wicket in hand, it was Scotland's game again, but Shapoor (12 n.o., 10b, 2x4), coming in at No.11, and Hassan (15 n.o., 39b, 1x4) showed tremendous composure to take the match to the final over, to cue the stunning drama.
Earlier, the first spell from the Zadrans, with a little help from the equally impressive Hassan, reduced Scotland to 40/3 in the 12th over, and it was always going to be difficult for the men from the UK to get over that blow and post a big total.
Afghanistan have shown quite a few times already that if they have a little assistance from the pitch or atmosphere, their bowling attack is pretty potent up front, and that proved to be the case again.
After a brief revival following those three quick wickets, the Zadrans came back to smash Scotland again, reducing their opponents to 144/8 in the 37th over, to put Afghanistan on the brink of having to chase a low total.
However, the Scots would not lie down and surrender that easily, and a record Scotland partnership of 63 runs for the ninth wicket between Alasdair Evans and Majid Haq brought them back in the game, even if those runs in the end proved to not enough for victory.
Get the Full Scorecard of the Match HERE