Half-centuries by opener Mohammad Shahzad and Shafiullah steered Afghanistan to a convincing seven-wicket victory over Hong Kong in a Group B match to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the ICC World Twenty20, in Chittagong, on Tuesday.
Chasing 154 for victory, Afghanistan overhauled the target with two overs to spare and knocked Hong Kong out of the tournament.
Shafiullah came up with a blistering unbeaten 51 off just 24 balls. He and Shahzad, who scored 68 off 53 balls, added 47 runs for the third wicket before the opener was caught by Irfan Ahmad off Haseeb Amjad. Shahzad hit nine boundaries in his significant knock.
Shafiullah kept batting well at the other end as Afghanistan scored 24 runs in the 17th over, bowled by Aizaz Khan.
Shafiullah smashed three sixes off Aizaz and then raised his half-century in the next over with a sweep shot off Haseeb Amjad. The boundary also completed the victory.
"I didn't play well in the last two matches so the coach told me to take my time. Everybody supported me in the match. It was a good fifty for me and it was a good win for us. In T20, everything is possible. We need to see the result of the next match and hopefully we can make it to the next round," Man of the match Shahzad said after the victory.
Earlier, Hong Kong posted a decent 153 for eight even as their middle and lower struggled after electing to bat.
Waqas Barkat (32), skipper Jamie Atkinson (31) and Mark Chapman (38) were the only batsmen who made a mark with the bat.
Hong Kong could scored just 51 runs after losing the top-order batsmen inside the 14th over, as Shapoor Zadran (2-27), Hamza Hotak (2-32) and Mohammed Nabi (2-27) took two wickets each.
Image: Mohammad Shahzad
Photograph: Christopher Lee/Getty Images