Afghanistan to face Proteas in T20 WC semis

Rashid Khan and Mohammad Isha. PHOTO: Cricinfo

Afghanistan are into the semi-finals for the ICC T20 World Cup for the first time ever, and they will face South Africa in the knockout match.

In the early hours on Tuesday morning, Afghanistan beat Bangladesh by eight-runs according to the Duckworth-Lewis method in a thrilling Group 1 clash of the Super Eights in Saint Vincent.

Afghanistan had a bat first and managed to score just 115/5 in their allotted 20-overs with the wicketkeeper, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, scoring 43-runs, while the captain Rashid Khan contributed with 19 not out.

Rishad Hossain was the star with the ball for Bangladesh by taking 3/26 in his 4-overs, while Taskin Ahmed took 1/12 and Mustafizur Rahman took 1/19.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz. PHOTO: Cricinfo

Rain saw the target being reduced slightly to 114-runs for the win and Bangladesh had to achieve this in 19-overs.

The Tigers wicketkeeper, Litton Das, played a gem of an innings to keep his team in the fight with an unbeaten 54 off 49.

Towhid Hridoy with 14 and Soumya Sarkar with 10 were the only other Bangladeshi batters to reach double-figures with the bat.

The Afghans captain, Khan, led the charge with the ball and took 4/23 in his 4-overs, while the seamer Naveen-ul-Haq was equally good with 4/26 in 3.5-overs. The spinner, Noor Ahmad, didn’t take a wicket, but his spell of 0/13 in 4-overs played a major part in Afghanistan reaching the semi-finals.

Following the thrilling game in Kingstown, Khan said that it’s a dream to reach the semi-finals of a major ICC tournament and they were just too happy to prove the West Indies great and icon, Brian Lara, right.

“It’s a dream for us to be in the semi-finals,” said Khan.

“The way we started the tournament, the belief came when we beat New Zealand – it’s unbelievable.

“The only guy who put us in the semi-finals was Brian Lara and we proved him right. When we met him at a welcome party, I told him we won’t let you down.

“We thought 130-135 was a good score but we fell 15 runs short. We knew they would come hard at us and we knew that is what we could take advantage of.

“We didn’t need to do anything extra, just be clear in our plans. We wanted to make people back home happy, that was the discussion we had and everyone did a wonderful job.”

David Warner. PHOTO: Cricinfo

Meanwhile, the win by the minnows saw Australia being eliminated. On Monday night, India beat Australia by 28-runs to finish at the top of Group 1 and set up a semi-final against England. The Aussies needed Bangladesh to win the match in order to advance and face South Africa in the last four.

The semi-final between the Proteas and Afghanistan will be played early on Thursday morning, and one of these teams will be in a World Cup final for the very first time.

This semi-final is scheduled to get underway at 2:30am on Thursday.

Morgan Piek