Shapoor Zadran hit the winning runs to give Afghanistan its first victory at its inaugural Cricket World Cup and followed it up by running around with his arms outstretched in wild celebration.
Then, as if the reality of the feat sank in for him and some of his teammates, many who learned cricket while growing up in refugee camps in Pakistan due to years of war in their homeland, he fell to the ground, overcome with emotion.
It was a scene repeated often in the ensuing minutes after Afghanistan clinched a one-wicket win Thursday over Scotland with three balls remaining in its 50 overs. University Oval in Dunedin, New Zealand was the location, and it will forever hold a special place in the history of the sport in Afghanistan and the World Cup.
Samuillah Shenwari scored 96 runs to bat Afghanistan close to victory as it chased Scotland\’s 210, but Shenwari was out with 19 runs needed, 19 balls remaining and one wicket standing. The last-wicket pair of Hamid Hassan (15 not out) and Shapoor (12 not out) combined to complete the historic win.
"We lost five wickets early and I had the responsibility to stay there till the end," Shenwari said of Afghanistan\’s collapse when it scored only 12 runs for the loss of the five wickets. "It was a poor shot to get out, but I was trying to get a six. Good win for us in the tournament and we are looking forward to win more."
Scotland, ranked behind Afghanistan in the International Cricket Council rankings, is playing at its third World Cup but is yet to register a win.
In the later match Thursday, unbeaten centuries from Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara guided Sri Lanka to an imposing total of 332-1 against Bangladesh at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Dilshan made the most of an early fielding error to post 161, his third World Cup century, while Sangakkara marked his 400th one-day international by scoring 105 off 76 balls in a 210-run partnership after Sri Lanka won the toss.
On Friday, the West Indies, coming off a 73-run win over Zimbabwe when Chris Gayle hit a World Cup-record innings of 215, plays a team coming off a big loss, South Africa. The South Africans, outclassed by defending champion India in a 130-run loss on Sunday, prepared for the tournament with lopsided series wins at home against the West Indies.
"They beat us badly in their hometown," Gayle said. "We are on neutral grounds now, so hopefully we can get things going for us."
South Africa\’s squad included captain A.B. de Villiers and Hashim Amla, two of the leading batsmen in the one-day international format, and a pace battery led by Dale Steyn.
South Africa beat Zimbabwe in its first match before losing to India. The West Indies squad is moving in the other direction, losing to tier-two Ireland by four wickets in its moment before rebounding with big wins over Pakistan and Zimbabwe.
"Nothing has changed for our approach except our confidence might have taken a bit of a slip in the last game," de Villiers said. "It\’s maybe a good thing for us to make sure we keep our feet on the ground. We\’ve got only upward to go now otherwise we\’re going to stumble out of this tournament."
Meanwhile, the International Cricket Council announced that former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during Saturday\’s match between co-hosts New Zealand and Australia at Auckland.
Crowe captained New Zealand in 16 tests and 44 ODIs before retiring in 1996. A cousin of actor Russell Crowe, Martin Crowe played 77 tests in a 13-year career, scoring 5,444 runs and notching 17 centuries, the most by a New Zealand cricketer.
He revealed in September he was suffering from a recurrence of lymphoma, a cancer that he was first diagnosed with in 2012.