Afghanistan storm into historic semi-final after thriller against Bangladesh

Written by Vishwas Gupta

Afghanistan stormed into the semi-final of the T20 World Cup 2024 after beating Bangladesh by 8 runs (DLS) in their Super 8 clash on Tuesday, June 25 at the Arnos Vale Ground in Kingstown, St Vincent. Their victory meant that Australia, who won the tournament back in 2021, failed to go through to the next round after back-to-back losses at the hands of India and the Afghans. Rain played hide and seek throughout the second innings, but Afghanistan held their nerves.

Afghanistan finished second in the table with 4 points and a net run rate of -0.267 thanks to wins in 2 out of 3 games. After their 47-run defeat to India, Rashid Khan’s men looked down and out, but they rose like a phoenix from the ashes. They will now face Aiden Markram’s South Africa in the first semi-final on June 27 at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba, Trinidad.

After opting to bat first, Afghanistan hardly got off the blocks as they were restricted to 115 for 5 in 20 overs. Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran put on 59 runs for the opening wicket, but could not step on the gas. Rishad Hossain separated the duo after getting rid of Ibrahim, who made a painstaking 29-ball 18. Gurbaz, who is known for his big shots, scored 43 runs at an underwhelming strike-rate of 78.18.

The Afghan middle-order batters struggled as none of Azmatullah Omarzai, Gulbadin Naib and Karim Janat got going. In the end, it was an unbeaten 19-run knock off 10 balls from skipper Rashid Khan that injected some momentum into the Afghanistan innings. Rashid hit 3 sixes in his cameo, 2 of which came off Tanzim Hasan Sakib in the 20th over.

Rishad was the pick of the bowlers for Bangladesh after he finished with figures of 4-0-26-3. The leg-spinner also broke Shakib Al Hasan’s record for most wickets by a Bangladeshi spinner in a single edition of the T20 World Cup. Taskin Ahmed, who replaced Mahedi Hasan, and Mustafizur Rahman accounted for one scalp apiece.

Just before the start of Bangladesh’s run-chase, rain halted proceedings. After play resumed, the Tigers showed intent, although they lost the early wickets of Tanzid Hasan Tamim, Najmul Hossain Shanto and Shakib. With their score at 31 for 3 in 3.3 overs, rain arrived for the second time, but no overs were lost.

Soumya Sarkar and Towhid Hridoy played their shots and scored 10 and 14 runs respectively, before they got out to Rashid. While the Tigers kept losing wickets at regular intervals, Litton Das held one end up, but Bangladesh’s quest to chase the target in 12.1 overs kept becoming tough.

Mahmudullah became Rashid’s third victim. After 12.1 overs, the Tigers were officially knocked out. Litton fought valiantly to stay not out on 54 runs off 49 balls with the help of 5 fours and a six. However, his knock went in vain as Bangladesh were bowled out for 105 in 17.5 overs while defending a revised target of 114 in 19 overs.

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Vishwas Gupta