T20 World Cup: New Zealand wins semi-final with full victory over Afghanistan, ending India’s last four prospects
India were kicked out of the T20 World Cup after a clinical New Zealand won an easy eight-wicket triumph over Afghanistan in their final Super 12 game to claim the last available semi-final spot in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. India’s slim hopes rested on Afghanistan overshadowing the Black Caps, as that would have put the Net Run Rate in equation and opened the doors for Virat Kohli’s men, who now have only themselves to blame for eviction. The Kiwis were the favorites to win that day and they were hardly wrong, chasing a small goal of 125 in just 18.1 overs to join England, Australia and Pakistan in the final four stages.
Sunday’s result makes India’s final league entry against Namibia irrelevant. The team were dominated in their first two Super 12 matches by Pakistan and New Zealand, which turned out to be their downfall.
The team bounced back to claim victories against Afghanistan and Scotland, but the damage from the previous two losses was far too great.
Kane Williamson’s men, who have won four of their five Super 12 matches, will face either England or Australia in the semi-finals.
Forerunners Daryl Mitchell (17), caught by Mohammad Shahzad of Mujeeb ur Rahman, and Martin Guptill (28), who became Rashid Khan’s 400th wicket in T20 cricket, were the only New Zealand wickets to fall in the afternoon game.
Williamson (40 not, 42 balls, 3 fours) didn’t seem in a rush on his shot and his half-century third wicket partnership with Devon Conway (36 not) guided the team home.
They negotiated the spin threat posed by Rashid, Mujeeb, and Mohammed Nabi well enough to ensure there was no drama.
Conway overcame a provisional start and hit Nabi for two limits in the 14th to speed up the chase after a brief lull.
Earlier, New Zealand coaches, led by Trent Boult (3/17), delivered a clinical performance to narrow Afghanistan down to 124 for 8 in their final T20 World Cup Super 12 match in Abu Dhabi Sunday.
Afghanistan, who needed to win to keep their hopes up in the semi-finals, reached the total mainly thanks to the efforts of Najibullah Zadran (73 out of 48 balls). Zadran stood out in a rather lukewarm display by the rest of his teammates.
He hit six fours and three sixes on his brilliant innings. The Kiwi rhythm trio of Boult, Tim Southee (2/24) and Adam Milne (1/17) gave nothing in the initial innings as the Afghan hitters struggled to start and force the pace of their sleeves.
Ish Sodhi (1/13) and Jimmy Neesham (1/24) were the other New Zealand teller takers. Neesham conceded just two runs in the Afghan innings final.
Left-hander Zadran saved Afghanistan with a fifth wicket of 59 points with captain Mohammed Nabi (14).
The team was placed 56 for 4 in 10 overs when the two came together and sank their heels. However, there was very little support for Zadran from the other hitters.
A flurry of wickets after the fall of Nabi, including that of Zadran, kept Afghanistan below an average score.
Boult returned Zadran and Karim Janat (2) in the 19th as the Kiwis took control of the match. Afghanistan got off to a bad start, losing the opening games in the opening four overs.
Shahzad (4) was the first to go third when his uppercut from Milne flew to wicket keeper Devon Conway, who jumped high to complete a good catch on the second attempt.
The wily Boult hit the second shot, getting Hazratullah Zazai as the batter’s hitting attempt took the lead for an easy catch to Mitchell Santner, leaving Afghanistan 12-2.
Soon it turned 19 for 3 when Rahmanullah Gurbaz was ahead of Tim Southee for 6. Zadran and Gulbadin Naib (15) staged a mini recovery for Afghanistan with a 37-race partnership for the fourth wicket in which the first a offered some good moves.
However, leg spinner Ish Sodhi made a breakthrough for the Kiwis when he asked Naib to cut a large delivery on his stumps.
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