Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
The World T20 is well underway with the likes Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Afghanistan all having recorded valuable wins at the time of writing.
Thursday will see two mouth-watering games with Scotland set to go up against Zimbabwe before the Afghans lock horns with Hong Kong.
Scotland 3/1 | Draw 35/1 | Zimbabwe 1/4
Scotland come into this game knowing that nothing less than a victory will do in their quest for a spot in in the Super 10 phase of the competition following their narrow loss to Afghanistan on Tuesday afternoon.
Having been set 171 to win on a slow, low wicket; the Scots got off to a solid start with George Munsey and Kyle Coetzer putting on 84 for the first wicket before the latter was caught by Najibullah off the bowling of Shenwari. Three balls later, his opening partner joined him in the pavilion after being trapped in front by Rashid Khan. The loss of those two wickets signalled the beginning of the end for Europeans who never looked comfortable against the spin-heavy Afghan attack. Despite a brave rear-guard effort by Matt Machan, the Scots never really looked like getting over the line as they fell to a 14-run defeat.
There were a number of positives to be taken out of the game, however. Mark Watt, their young left-arm orthodox spinner played magnificently well. Coming from wide of the crease, the 19-year-old targeted the stumps and gave the Afghan batsmen very little room to free their arms. Alasdair Evans also put in a decent shift with the ball, conceding just 24 runs from his six overs while claiming the wicket of Noor Ali Zadran. There was also a lot of promise shown by the two Scottish openers as they laid the perfect platform for the middle order to capitalise on – which they didn’t.
Zimbabwe endured a nervy 14-run win over Hong Kong in the second game of this year’s competition. Having lost the toss and being put in to bat, the southern Africans got off to the ideal start as Hamilton Masakadza smashed 20 from the first 13 balls of the game before he was brilliantly run out Babar Hayat. His opening partner, Vusi Sibanda stepped up brilliantly to pick up where his captain left off. Sibanda would go on record a career-best 59 before being dismissed by Aizaz Khan.
There were a few fireworks later on in the piece courtesy of Elton Chigumbura who finished unbeaten on 30 off just 13 balls. The Zimbabwean attack was as disciplined as I’ve ever seen conceding just one no-ball and one wide. None of the six bowlers returned economy rates exceeding 7.5 even with Jamie Atkinson teeing off from the word go.
Verdict: Top Zimbabwe Batsman: Sean Williams 9/2
While he never really got going in the first match of the tournament, Williams is easily one of the most dangerous players in this Zimbabwean line-up. He’s a busy player, similar to Kane Williamson; and if he gets set, could well make a big score. He also offers great value at 9/2.
Afghanistan 2/7 | Draw 35/1 | Hong Kong 29/10
Afghanistan come into this match as overwhelming favourites, and for good reason. They put in a superb display to beat Scotland by 14 runs on the opening day of the competition. Having won the toss and electing to bat, they got off to the ideal start with Mohammad Shahzad and Asghar Stanikzai each scoring half-centuries as the Asian minnows powered to 170-5 off their allotted 20 overs.
They struggled a bit with the ball, especially in the early part of the Scottish innings where Munsey and Coetzer put on 84 for the first wicket, even hitting Gulbadin Naib out of the attack. Mohammad Nabi and Amir Hamza managed to keep a lid on the scoring as they strangled the Scottish middle-order with some deft spin bowling.
Hong Kong will do well to get anything out of their game with the Afghans on Thursday afternoon. Although they put on a brave display in the face some belligerent batting and tight bowling, they still never really came close to troubling the Zimbabweans in the opening game of this year’s tournament. Their two spinners, Ryan Campbell and Nadeem Ahmed did incredibly well to keep the scoring down, however, they simply weren’t well supported enough by the remainder of the attack.
In honesty, their batting let them down. For a team that prides itself on chasing, the Hong Kongers battled to deal with some of the most economical bowling you’re likely to see at the World T20 this year. Only Jamie Atkinson (53) and Tanwir Afzal (31) managed to trouble the Africans as they cruised to a 14-run win.
Verdict: Afghanistan 2/7
The odds aren’t great, but Afghanistan look like they have way too much quality for a brave Hong Kong side. Back them at 2/7.
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