Afghanistan keep semis hopes alive after historic win over Australia
NEW YORK: (Web Desk) Afghanistan defeated Australia by 21 runs in their Super Eight match of the T20 World Cup 2024 in Saint Vincent, getting a chance of qualifying for the semifinals.

 After the historic victory, Gulbadin Naib, Afghanistan’s hero with the ball, said, “We have waited for this moment for a long time – at last, we beat Australia.”

He took four wickets in his four overs and gave away only 20 runs as Mitchell Marsh’s side was all out for 127 in 19.2 overs in their chase of 149.

Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell threatened to take the game away from Afghanistan once again. However, Naib dismissed him in the 15th over to set off a procession of Australian wickets.

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Maxwell (59 off 41) was the highest scorer for Australia. Marsh (12 runs) and Marcus Stoinis (11 runs) were the only other batters who managed to put on double-figure scores.

Naib also took the crucial wickets of Stoinis, lower-order batter Tim David and big-hitting bowler Pat Cummins.

Naib shared, “We have achieved a lot in the last 10 years, but this is a great achievement for Afghanistan cricket.” He admitted the wicket at the Arnos Vale Ground in Kingstown was not very easy to bat on, but hailed his team for fighting on until the end.

He said, “The ball was not coming onto the bat easily, but it was a team effort.”

“It’s a big achievement – our journey starts now.”

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Naveen ul Haq was the other pace bowler who helped keep Australia at bay with his three wickets in four overs at an economy rate of five runs per over.

Afghanistan’s Rashid took one wicket in his four overs giving away just 23 runs. Mohammad Nabi dismissed Australia’s dangerous opener David Warner for three runs in his solitary over.

On coming Tuesday, Afghanistan will play Bangladesh at the same venue and fancy their chances of beating the side that has already lost two games. A big win over Bangladesh would seal their semifinal berth.

Rashid said the win was “very important for the people back home”, who will be delighted with the double joy of opening up their chances for the semifinals.

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 “[It is] a massive win, especially beating [50-over] world champions in a world cup match,” Rashid added.

Australia’s chase was dented early on when Naveen dismissed in-form opener Travis Head on the third ball of the innings.

Regular wickets and tight bowling kept the pre-tournament favourites at bay and Afghanistan wrapped up a famous win with four balls to spare.

The players and backroom staff set off wild celebrations at the end of the match.

Australia captain Marsh admitted his team were “outplayed” by a disciplined Afghan side.

Australia now face India next in their last Super Eight match on Tuesday. A loss against the 2007 champions would all but confirm their exit from the tournament, as Al Jazeera reported.