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Afghanistan Secure Thrilling Semi-Final Spot with Nail-Biting Chase

Photo Credit: ICC

Afghanistan has made cricketing history by reaching the semifinals of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. They needed a win against Bangladesh, but it was far from straightforward.

Afghanistan narrowly defeated Bangladesh in one of the most thrilling matches in ICC Men’s T20 World Cup history.

Requiring a victory to secure their place in the semifinals, Afghanistan just managed to cross the finish line, knocking Australia out of contention for the second spot in Group 1 of the Super Eights. They now join India, England, and South Africa as the remaining contenders for the World Cup title.

Bangladesh also had a chance, needing a convincing win. Ultimately, it came down to whether Afghanistan or Australia would advance, with Bangladesh’s pursuit in St Vincent seeing countless twists and turns.

Rashid Khan won the toss for Afghanistan and chose to bat first. The drama began immediately.

On the very first ball, opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz narrowly avoided being run out while taking a quick single. This set the tone for the match.

Bangladesh relished the challenge, making scoring difficult and restricting Afghanistan to just five runs in their initial two overs.

Despite this pressure, Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran prioritized their wickets effectively. They guided Afghanistan to 27/0 at the end of the Powerplay, although runs were hard to come by.

Gurbaz and Zadran then reached another milestone with a 50-run partnership early in the ninth over, marking their fourth partnership of at least 50 runs in a T20 World Cup – a first in the tournament’s history.

While Bangladesh controlled Afghanistan’s run rate well, extras began to accumulate – 13 in the first nine overs alone. Afghanistan reached 58/0 at the drinks break, needing to accelerate.

The breakthrough came in the twelfth over as Zadran (18 off 29) was caught. The Tigers then bowled a crucial maiden over, adding more pressure on Afghanistan.

Gurbaz hit two timely fours in the fourteenth over, but tight bowling created opportunities for Bangladesh, which they capitalized on.

Azmatullah Omarzai was dismissed cheaply, and Gurbaz (43 off 55) fell in the sixteenth over, his contribution pivotal to Afghanistan posting a competitive total.

Bangladesh claimed two more wickets by the eighteenth over, leaving Afghanistan at 99/5 with two overs remaining.

Rashid Khan played an entertaining cameo, hitting three sixes, but Afghanistan could only manage 115/5 in their 20 overs, as rain intervened in St Vincent. Australia and Bangladesh anxiously awaited the outcome.

When play resumed, Gurbaz suffered an injury, adding more drama. Fazalhaq Farooqi and Naveen-ul-Haq then took key wickets early in Bangladesh’s innings.

Midway through the fourth over, rain halted play again, with further delays risking the activation of the DLS method.

At the six-over mark, Bangladesh struggled at 46/3. Litton Das and Soumya Sarkar then stabilized the innings.

Rashid Khan’s introduction led to Sarkar’s dismissal, reigniting Afghanistan’s hopes.

Bangladesh needed to chase the target within 12.1 overs to qualify ahead of Australia. Towhid Hridoy’s boundaries in the eighth over shifted momentum, but Khan dismissed him in the next over, changing the game again.

Das and Mahmudullah steadied Bangladesh, reaching 77/5 at the drinks break.

In a chaotic match, Khan took consecutive wickets in the eleventh over, including Mahmudullah’s, keeping the match finely balanced with his figures of 4/17 off three overs.

Rain interrupted play once more, but Afghanistan remained ahead of the DLS par score. When play resumed, Bangladesh edged past the par score in the thirteenth over, but their semifinal hopes were over. Khan finished with 4/23.

With 20 runs needed from the last four overs, Litton reached a crucial half-century. However, Taskin Ahmed was dismissed, leaving Bangladesh at 109/9.

Mustafizur Rahman joined Litton, but Naveen-ul-Haq’s fourth wicket sealed Afghanistan’s thrilling victory, securing their semifinal berth.

It was a heartbreak for Bangladesh and Australia, while Afghanistan celebrated their dramatic journey to the semifinals.

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