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Afghanistan Make History; Seal Dramatic Semi-Final Berth Amid Heart-Stopping Run Chase

Afghanistan Make History; Seal Dramatic Semi-Final Berth Amid Heart-Stopping Run Chase

St Vincent: In a match destined to go down in cricketing history, Afghanistan clinched a nail-biting victory over Bangladesh to secure their spot in the semi-finals of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. This win not only propelled Afghanistan to the final four but also ended Australia’s campaign, ensuring Afghanistan joined India, England, and South Africa as the tournament’s remaining contenders.

The match, played in St Vincent, was a rollercoaster of emotions and showcased cricket at its most thrilling. Afghanistan needed a victory to advance, and the contest against Bangladesh was anything but straightforward. Rashid Khan and Naveen ul-Haq grabbed 4 wickets each to restrict Bangladesh for 105 runs falling sort of the target of 114 in 19 overs as per DLS method.

Rashid Khan, Afghanistan’s talismanic captain, won the toss and opted to bat first. Drama unfolded immediately as Rahmanullah Gurbaz narrowly avoided a run-out on the very first ball. The opening pair, Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran, faced a disciplined Bangladesh bowling attack, managing only five runs in the first two overs. However, they held their wickets, steering Afghanistan to a cautious 27/0 by the end of the Powerplay.

The duo achieved a milestone in the ninth over, becoming the first pair to compile four partnerships of at least 50 runs in a T20 World Cup. Despite Bangladesh’s efforts to control the run rate, extras began to mount, with 13 conceded in the first nine overs. Afghanistan reached 58/0 at the drinks break, needing to accelerate their scoring.

The breakthrough came swiftly after the interval, as Zadran fell for 18, followed by a maiden over from Bangladesh, increasing the pressure on Afghanistan. Gurbaz’s composed innings of 43 off 55 balls ended at the start of the 16th over, and the Afghan batting order began to wobble. They were 99/5 with two overs remaining.

Rashid Khan’s aggressive cameo, which included three sixes, lifted Afghanistan to a total of 115/5 from their 20 overs. Rain intervened, adding to the tension as players and fans alike awaited the outcome.

Upon resumption, Fazalhaq Farooqi struck early for Afghanistan, removing Tanzid Hasan for a duck. Naveen-ul-Haq then delivered two crucial blows in the third over, dismissing the Bangladesh captain among others. Another rain delay loomed, threatening to invoke the DLS method, but play resumed in time.

Bangladesh managed to reach 46/3 at the end of the Powerplay, with Litton Das and Soumya Sarkar forming a brief partnership. Rashid Khan, introduced in the seventh over, quickly dismissed Sarkar, swinging the momentum back to Afghanistan.

With Bangladesh needing to chase down the target within 12.1 overs to surpass Australia and qualify, Towhid Hridoy’s brief counterattack ended with another wicket from Khan. As drinks approached, Bangladesh found themselves at 77/5, with Das and Mahmudullah trying to steady the innings.

Khan’s back-to-back strikes in the 11th over, including Mahmudullah’s wicket, put Afghanistan in control once more. Despite rain briefly halting play again, Bangladesh resumed needing 20 runs from the last four overs. Das reached a gritty half-century but lost partners quickly, leaving the Tigers at 109/9 with just eight balls left.

Naveen-ul-Haq’s final over saw Mustafizur Rahman fall LBW first ball, sealing Afghanistan’s dramatic win and their semi-final berth. The victory was met with jubilation from the Afghan players and fans, while Bangladesh and Australia were left to ponder what might have been.

Afghanistan’s stunning performance under pressure has now set the stage for an exhilarating semi-final round, with the team eyeing further historic success in the tournament. In the semifinals India lock horn with England while Afghanistan will face South Africa on June 27.

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