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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

World Cup Qualifier: MacLeod leads Scotland to remarkable win, Zimbabwe thrash Nepal

Unbeaten century from the batsman ensures a seven wicket victory against Afghanistan in Bulawayo

Scotland were surprise winners against Afghanistan on the opening day of the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe. Courtesy ICC
Scotland were surprise winners against Afghanistan on the opening day of the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe. Courtesy ICC

The opening day of the World Cup Qualifier brought with it a substantial shock as favourites Afghanistan were thrashed by Scotland on Sunday.

Calum MacLeod made an extraordinary 157 not out from 146 balls, as Scotland razed a bowling attack that included Rashid Khan, the world’s No 1 limited overs bowler.

While the seven-wicket win was remarkable, the identity of the match-winner was perhaps less so.

MacLeod made the highest score of the tournament at the last Qualifier, in 2014, when Scotland won the competition, beating UAE in the final. He has made an early claim to doing the same this time around.

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That secured them a place in the 2015 World Cup, where they actually went on to lose to Afghanistan in the pool phase.

They exacted revenge in remarkable style. The Afghans were bowled out with two balls left of their 50 overs, after 92 from Mohammed Nabi had set them on the way to 254.

MacLeod, though, made that seem like a paltry effort. The 208-run, third-wicket stand between him and Richie Berrington, was a record for any wicket by Scotland in one-day internationals.

The other match in Group B went to form, as Zimbabwe delighted their home support with a run-spree against Nepal in Bulawayo. They won by 116 runs.

Nepal had only reached this stage in the tensest of fashion, as they finished runners-up to UAE in the World Cricket League Division 2 in Namibia last month.

They were given an immediate reality check, in a rare outing for the Himalayan country against a full-Test nation.

Sikandar Raza hit the first century of the competition, ending with 123 in just 66 balls. Brendon Taylor also hit a century as the host nation amassed 380 for six from their 50 overs.

It was always likely to be beyond Nepal, but they earned credit for the fight they showed with the bat. Sharad Vesawkar and Aarif Sheikh each made half-centuries, while 15-year-old Rohit Kumar made 30 from 32 balls.

Ireland made a statement of their intent, as they opened the tournament with a comprehensive win over Netherlands.

Andrew Balbirnie top-scored with 68, and Tim Murtagh took three wickets as Ireland won by 93 runs.

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