Cricket: Afghanistan hold their nerves to beat Scotland to record first World Cup victory

Afghanistan batsman Shapoor Zadran (centre) celebrates with teammate Hamid Hassan (right) after hitting the winning runs to defeat Scotland as reserve Usman Ghani (left) looks on in their 2015 Cricket World Cup Group A match in Dunedin on Feb 26, 201
Afghanistan batsman Shapoor Zadran (centre) celebrates with teammate Hamid Hassan (right) after hitting the winning runs to defeat Scotland as reserve Usman Ghani (left) looks on in their 2015 Cricket World Cup Group A match in Dunedin on Feb 26, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) - Afghanistan's remarkable rise continued with a maiden World Cup win as they overcame Scotland by one wicket on Thursday.

It is a long way, in more than terms of distance, from the ravages of war-torn Afghanistan to Dunedin's University Oval but the sedate surroundings ultimately proved a happy hunting ground for the Afghans.

But Afghanistan, appearing in their first World Cup, looked anything but likely winners as they slumped to 97 for seven in pursuit of a modest victory target of 211.

But Samiullah Shenwari, who 12 months ago made 81 as Afghanistan stunned Bangladesh at the Asia Cup, his country's only win over a Test nation, had other ideas.

On Thursday, the 28-year-old's breathtaking 96 took Afghanistan to the brink of a sensational victory.

But when he holed out, Afghanistan still needed 19 more runs off as many balls with just one wicket standing.

However, the last-wicket duo of Hamid Hassan (15 not out) and Shapoor Zadran (12 not out) held their nerves.

This result, following Ireland's exciting win over the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday, meant the four non-Test nations taking part had produced the two most exciting finishes of this World Cup - an ideal riposte to the International Cricket Council's proposal to reduce the number of teams involved in the 2019 edition in England from 14 to 10.

Said Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi: "The pressure was extreme again but Shenwari batted brilliantly. It's good to put two points on the board. This is our first win in the World Cup and everyone (in Afghanistan) will enjoy this."