Afghanistan claims last semifinal place at cricket's Twenty20 World Cup, India eliminates Australia | Crickit
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Afghanistan claims last semifinal place at cricket's Twenty20 World Cup, India eliminates Australia

AP |
Jun 25, 2024 11:23 AM IST

Afghanistan claims last semifinal place at cricket's Twenty20 World Cup, India eliminates Australia

GROS ISLET, St. Lucia — Afghanistan edged Bangladesh to reach the Twenty20 World Cup semifinals for the first time and followed India into the last four following a combination of results that eliminated 2021 champion Australia on Monday.

Afghanistan claims last semifinal place at cricket's Twenty20 World Cup, India eliminates Australia
Afghanistan claims last semifinal place at cricket's Twenty20 World Cup, India eliminates Australia

Captain Rohit Sharma bludgeoned 92 off 41 balls against Australia to lead India to a 24-run win in St. Lucia.

Afghanistan advanced when it beat Bangladesh by eight runs with seven balls remaining in a thrilling, rain-affected match at Kingstown, St. Vincent.

The match went down to the penultimate over and at times the fate of the Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Australia teams all hung in the balance.

All three had a chance of qualifying depending on the result. But it was finally Afghanistan that won and went through to a semifinal Wednesday against South Africa.

India will play defending champion England on Thursday.

Sharma posted this tournament’s fastest half-century — off 19 deliveries — and finished with eight sixes and seven boundaries as India plundered 205-5.

Travis Head kept Australia in the chase with a blistering 76 off 43 balls, but his teammates choked against spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel to be restricted at 181-7.

India, unbeaten in the group stage, closed the Super Eight with three wins from three matches.

“It’s quite satisfying, especially when you play like that,” Sharma said. “We don’t want to do anything different , we want to play the same way, understand what the individuals need to do in a given situation, and play freely.”

Sharma set the tone for India when he smashed Mitchell Starc's second over for 29 runs with three sixes and two fours.

Virat Kohli was out for his second duck in the tournament, caught at midwicket off a Josh Hazlewood short ball. Kohli has just 66 runs in six games but Sharma was held back only by a five-minute rain delay.

“The 50s and 100s don’t matter, I wanted to bat with the same tempo and carry on," Sharma said. "You want to make the bowlers think where the next shot is coming, and I think I managed to do that.”

In total, 76 of his runs came from boundaries and sixes. He became the first batter to hit 200 sixes in T20 internationals, and he also passed Kohli and Pakistan’s Babar Azam as the leading scorer in international cricket's shortest format.

Sharma had the first century of this tournament in sight before he was undone by Starc’s yorker in the 12th over.

But middle-order batters Suryakumar Yadav , Shivam Dube and Hardik Pandya ensured India of the joint highest total against Australia in men's T20 World Cup history.

Only Hazlewood bowled at the right lengths in his four overs.

Australia lost David Warner in Arshdeep Singh’s first over, but Head and captain Mitchell Marsh counterpunched with a brisk 81-run, second-wicket stand.

Patel's brilliant one-handed catch removed Marsh, and Yadav bowled Glenn Maxwell on 20 in the 14th over. Pandya smartly snapped up Marcus Stoinis at point.

After Head was deceived by Jasprit Bumrah's slower ball, Australia’s challenge fizzled out.

“It’s disappointing,” Marsh said. “India got the better of us … we’ve seen for 15 years what Rohit Sharma can do in that kind of mood, and he got off to an absolute flier.” Afghanistan qualifies

Afghanistan batted first and made what seemed an inadequate 115-5 in a match it had to win to reach the semifinals for the first time.

Then in a dramatic second innings with rain hovering and three nations gripped by the action, Bangladesh fell short in a hectic effort to surpass Afghanistan’s total in 12.1 overs — which would have sent it into the semifinals.

Afghanistan’s victory was finally sealed when the last Bangladesh wicket fell with the total 105 at 1.10am local time. Few dared leave the ground as they were gripped until the end by the action and the kaleidoscope of changing fortunes.

Rain interrupted the match on four occasions, adding more drama and bringing the Duckworth Lewis system into play.

In an breath-taking finish to the Super Eight stage, there were four main scenarios. If Afghanistan won it would go through. If it rained and the match ended without a result, Afghanistan also would progress.

A Bangladesh win would end Afghanistan’s campaign and send Australia through. But if Bangladesh won within 12.1 overs it would go through on net run-rate and both Afghanistan and Australia would go home.

When Afghanistan made only 115 after choosing to bat, all of those scenario’s remained in play. Rain eventually reduced the overall chase to 114 from 19 overs and when Bangladesh missed its run-rate target it could no longer qualify.

Naveen-ul-Haq dismissed Taskin Ahmed and Mustafizur Rahman with the last two balls of the 18th over to clinch the match and finish with 4-26. Litton Das carried his bat and finished 54 not out for Bangladesh.

“We have worked so hard over the past few years and we were dreaming and we were waiting for this day,” Naveen said. “When that day comes and it happens, it’s a surreal experience."

As he spoke, the Afghanistan players carried their captain Rashid Khan around the field as rain fell.

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This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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