Cricket

Afghanistan Vs Bangladesh, T20 World Cup Super 8: Rashid Khan & Co Enter Maiden Semi-Finals

Chasing a revised target of 114 runs in 19 overs due to rain delays, Bangladesh were bowled out for 105 runs as Afghanistan entered their first-ever ICC T20 World Cup semi-finals and knocked the mighty Australia out in the process.

Naveen-ul-Haq dismisses Taskin Ahmed, Afghanistan vs Bangladesh, ICC T20 World Cup 2024, AP photo
Naveen-ul-Haq dismisses Taskin Ahmed during the Afghanistan vs Bangladesh, ICC T20 World Cup 2024 match in Saint Vincent on Tuesday (June 25). Photo: AP/Ricardo Mazalan
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It could not have been more dramatic than that. In a match that had more twists and turns than a whodunnit movie, Naveen-ul-Haq was the emergent heroic figure as Afghanistan edged out Bangladesh by eight runs to storm into their first-ever World Cup semi-finals, in Saint Vincent on Tuesday (June 25). In the process, the Afghans knocked the mighty Australia out of the tournament. (Highlights | Scorecard | Full Coverage)

Chasing a revised target of 114 runs in 19 overs due to rain delays, Bangladesh were bowled out for 105 runs in their ICC T20 World Cup 2024, Super Eight clash. Naveen-ul-Haq and Rashid Khan took four wickets apiece in an unbelievably see-saw battle.

As he has done countless times for Afghanistan, Rashid Khan turned the match on its head with pivotal breakthroughs. The Afghan skipper's twin strikes in the 11th over left Bangladesh seven down. But Tigers' opener Litton Das, who ended up carrying his bat, stood tall right till the end and seemed to be taking his side to a victory.

And that is when Naveen-ul-Haq returned to work his magic. After taking wickets off consecutive balls (Najmul Hossain Shanto and Shakib Al Hasan) in the third over of the innings, Naveen repeated the feat when it mattered the most, at the death. The charismatic seamer castled Taskin Ahmed and then trapped Mustafizur Rahman in front to spark wild celebrations from Afghan players, support staff and fans alike.

The match also saw some controversial delaying tactics by the Afghans, when they were ahead on the DLS par score. Coach Jonathan Trott could be seen animatedly asking the players to slow things down from the dugout and all-rounder Gulbadin Naib went down on the ground at first slip immediately after, apparently complaining of cramps.

Naib then recovered within minutes to begin bowling, prompting an on-air commentator to call him the "eighth wonder of the world".

Earlier, Bangladesh bowled disciplined lines and hard lengths to quell run-scoring in the Afghanistan innings. Despite a record fourth fifty-plus partnership from openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran, the tempo never rose and a flurry of wickets later meant that the Afghans ended with what looked like a below-par total.

It was a seemingly strange batting innings from the Afghans. The pitch seemed tricky, but still, the severe paucity of boundaries meant that the run rate never exceeded six an over. Eventually, a last-ball six from captain Rashid took the Afghans to a 115-run total.

Rain began pelting down in the last over, and the covers were brought on immediately after the innings ended. But before that, there was a unique incident in the 20th over that took viewers and commentators alike by surprise.

Off the third ball of the final over, bowled by Tanzim Hasan Sakib, Rashid Khan got a leading edge to the off side and scampered through for the first run. Rashid felt there was a chance of a second run but Karim Janat refused it. A furious Rashid threw his bat in Janat's direction as he was desperate to regain strike.

Playing XIs

Afghanistan: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Azmatullah Omarzai, Mohammad Nabi, Karim Janat, Rashid Khan (c), Nangeyalia Kharote, Noor Ahmad, Naveen-ul-Haq, Fazalhaq Farooqi.

Bangladesh: Litton Das (wk), Tanzid Hasan, Najmul Hossain Shanto (c), Towhid Hridoy, Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah, Soumya Sarkar, Rishad Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Tanzim Hasan Sakib, Mustafizur Rahman.

Afghanistan will now take on the unbeaten South Africa in the first semi-final, in Tarouba on June 27 (6am IST). The second semi-final will feature India against defending champions England, also on June 27 (8pm IST) in Providence.

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