After rain and drama Afghanistan book first T20 WC semis spot | Crickit
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After rain and drama Afghanistan book first T20 WC semis spot

BySomshuvra Laha
Jun 25, 2024 04:36 PM IST

Australia knocked out as Bangladesh botch up chase yet again after four-wicket hauls from Naveen-ul-Haq and Rashid Khan

Kolkata: Amid high drama in a match interrupted multiple times by rain, Afghanistan rode on four-wicket hauls by Naveen-ul-Haq and Rashid Khan to defeat Bangladesh by eight runs at Kingstown, St Vincent on Monday night and reach the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup for the first time.

**EDS: IMAGE VIA @ICC** Kingstown: Afghanistan's captain Rashid Khan with teammates acknowledges fans after Afghanistan won the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match against Bangladesh, at Arnos Vale Ground, Kingstown, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Monday, June 24, 2024. (PTI Photo)(PTI06_25_2024_000080B) (PTI)
**EDS: IMAGE VIA @ICC** Kingstown: Afghanistan's captain Rashid Khan with teammates acknowledges fans after Afghanistan won the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match against Bangladesh, at Arnos Vale Ground, Kingstown, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Monday, June 24, 2024. (PTI Photo)(PTI06_25_2024_000080B) (PTI)

Defending a modest 115, Afghanistan skipper Rashid took 4/23 and Naveen 4/26 to dismiss Bangladesh for 105, after the target was revised to 114 in 19 overs.

The equation was clear at the start — Bangladesh had to chase the target in 12.1 overs to pip Australia and Afghanistan, later revised to 116 in 12.4 overs. Rain added to the drama by stopping the game thrice before Gulbadin Naib dropping to the ground in the 13th over clutching his hamstring to raise some eyebrows as well. That was when a fresh rain interruption was imminent and Bangladesh were just behind on the DLS par score.

Throughout it all, Litton Das kept Bangladesh in the game with an unbeaten 54, even threatening to take them across the line with the equation reading 12 from 12. Das was dropped by Naveen of his own bowling third ball of the 18th over but the pacer bounced back by claiming the last two wickets, of Taskin Ahmed and Mustafizur Rahman, off consecutive deliveries to trigger stirring celebrations as Das stood stranded at the non-striker’s end.

“We have worked so hard over the past few years and we were dreaming of this day. It’s a surreal experience,” said Naveen. “We always knew they were going to be coming hard at us to try to get the target in 12.1 overs but we stuck to the task and kept getting wickets.”

Naveen didn’t have the best start, burning a review over a leg-before appeal before Najmul Hossain Shanto dragged his fuller ball through square-leg for boundary. But he brought in a deep midwicket and asked Shanto to repeat the stroke by bowling into his body. Shanto did, and picked out the fielder in the deep. Next ball, Naveen surprised Shakib Al Hasan with a quicker ball that straightened on pitching and took a leading edge that the bowler caught on his follow-through, reducing Bangladesh to 23/3.

Two wickets in two balls, and Afghanistan were straightaway in the game by the third over.

Afghanistan had their share of hiccups too. Openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran put up another fifty-run partnership but runs were hard to come by, meaning one of them had to stay on as long as possible to ensure Afghanistan put up a decent total. But the pressure of not finding enough boundaries finally told when Zadran miscued leg-spinner Rishad Hossain — he took 3/26 — in the 11th over.

Gurbaz persisted for some time but without much reward as Bangladesh slowly squeezed the life out of Afghanistan’s innings. Key to this period of ascendancy was seamer Taskin Ahmed producing a miserly spell, Mustafizur doing his thing with cutters and Shakib bowling tight.

Between the three Bangladesh conceded only 48 runs in 12 overs. Bangladesh bowled 66 dot balls, leaving Afghanistan drained of scoring options. The innings picked up momentum only towards the end courtesy Rashid Khan’s unbeaten 19, of which 18 came in the form of three sixes.

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