Cricket-Afghanistan beat Bangladesh to reach semi-finals, Australia go home

  • Cricket
  • Tuesday, 25 Jun 2024

(Reuters) -Afghanistan reached the semi-finals of the Twenty20 World Cup with a dramatic eight-run victory over Bangladesh under the Duckworth Lewis System in St Vincent on Monday, joining India as the qualifiers from Group 1 and sending Australia home.

Bangladesh also had a chance to progress or send Australia through with a victory but the Afghans dismissed them for 105 to take the win they needed to set up a first World Cup semi-final against South Africa in Trinidad on Wednesday.

India, who beat Australia by 24 runs earlier in St Lucia to leave the qualification hopes of the 2021 champions hanging by a thread, will take on title holders England in the second semi-final in Guyana on Thursday.

Afghanistan hopes were dented when they were restricted to a modest 115-5 but skipper Rashid Khan took 4-23 and Naveen-ul-Haq 4-26 in a defiant bowling effort that delivered victory.

The last few overs were high drama played out well past midnight local time with Bangladesh needing roughly a run a ball and the DLS calculations in case of more rain changing with every wicket and boundary.

Naveen delivered the coup de grace in the penultimate over by bowling Taskin Ahmed and trapping Mustafizur Rahman in front off consecutive balls, triggering tearful celebrations from his team mates.

"It's unbelievable, I don't have any words to describe my feelings," said Rashid.

"Definitely back home. Everyone is so, so happy for this big achievement for us being in the semi-final.

"We have to push ourselves for the people back home, for their happiness, to make the country proud. So that was the discussion we had and everyone did a wonderful job."

In the 12th over, Gulbadin Naib raised eyebrows when he collapsed to ground just after his coach Jonathan Trott had indicated to his players they should slow down and wait for a rain shower to intensify and stop play.

Rashid, who had looked unimpressed with his team mate on the field, later said the all-rounder had been suffering from cramp.

Gulbadin did spend a couple of overs off the field before returning to claim the eighth Bangladesh wicket, sending Tanzim Hasan Sakib back off a thick top edge to cover.

Even though their hopes of progressing had disappeared after the rain interruption in the 12th over reduced the match by one over and their target to 114, Bangladesh always had a chance of snatching the win while Litton Das was at the crease.

The opener took the strike where he could and hit 54 not out off 49 balls with five fours and a single six but ultimately ran out of partners.

"I think we bowled really well as a bowling unit, we did a lot of good things," said Bangladesh captain Najmul Hossain Shanto.

"But as a batting group, we made a lot of poor decisions, especially in the middle overs, so that cost us today."

His opposite number Rashid had earlier revived Afghan hopes by tearing the heart out of the middle order after Bangladesh reached the end of the powerplay on 46-3.

Rashid also boosted his team's batting at the death by smashing three sixes in a 10-ball 19.

So desperate was he to score that he hurled his bat down the wicket at his batting partner Karim Janat in fury when refused a second run in the final over.

Rashid had won the toss and elected to bat first and his fury may have been triggered by his disappointment at the tally Afghanistan put on the board.

Openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz (43) and Ibrahim Zadran (18) laid their traditional strong platform with a fourth half-century partnership of the tournament.

Once that stand was broken for 59 in the 11th over, though, the innings meandered and finally collapsed from 84-1 to 93-5 in 11 balls before Rashid gave it a late boost.

Leg spinner Rishad Hossain (3-26) did the most damage but all of the Bangladeshi bowlers performed well, serving up 66 dot balls over the innings.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)

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