Updated: Nov 8, 2021
Boult, Southee, Williamson ensure New Zealand get semi-final berth, Najibullah's 73 goes in vain
New Zealand 125 for 2 (Williamson 40*, Rashid Khan 27/1) beat Afghanistan 124 for 8 (Najibullah Zadran 73, Boult 17/3) by eight wickets
New Zealand and Afghanistan squared off in their last game of Super 12 round in T20 World Cup 2021 at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, November 7. New Zealand won their previous game against Namibia by 52 runs due to the collective efforts of players, whereas Afghanistan came from a heavy defeat against India as the latter’s batters registered a record total of 210 runs against them.
After three straight wins, the Kiwi side was aiming for a semi-final spot by beating Afghanistan in this game. Their opponent Afghanistan wanted to defeat New Zealand by a big margin to keep their net run-rate better than India and New Zealand both, so they can have a chance to qualify for the semi-final. India’s chances to get a semi- final berth were dependent on the win of Afghanistan in this game.
Afghanistan skipper Mohammad Nabi won the toss and opted to bat first.
Afghanistan suffers collapse early in the innings
Right-arm pacer Tim Southee took the new ball for New Zealand. Afghanistan got a slow start as opener Mohammad Shahzad struggled to time the ball.
In the third over of the game, first change bowler Adam Milne snared Shahzad on an individual score of 4 runs. Shahzad edged and got caught behind the wicket by wicketkeeper Devon Conway.
The other opener Hazratullah Zazai got out on 2 as he was caught by Mitchell Santner at mid-wicket. Next batter Ranmanullah Gurbaz couldn’t hang around much on the pitch as he was trapped in front of the stumps plumb by Southee.
These three wickets left Afghanistan in a dire state of 19/3. Middle-order batter Najibullah Zadran cracked two back-to-back boundaries off the deliveries bowled by James Neesham, though his partner Gulbadin Naib got bowled by spinner Ish Sodhi on 15 in the next over.
Najibullah Zadran played career-best knock to help his side reach 120+
Even if wickets kept tumbling at the other end, Zadran continued to play exquisite attacking strokes. He clubbed two mammoth sixes to collect 19 runs in the over bowled by spinner Santner.
In the next over, Zadran completed his fifty in just 33 balls. Zadran and skipper Nabi helped their side reach the three-figure mark. Zadran smoked another massive six over the long-off boundary in the 18 th over. However, his partner Nabi got caught and bowled by Southee in the same over on 14. Also, Zadran got caught at long-off by Neesham on 73. He registered the best individual score for Afghanistan in this World Cup off just 48 balls. Next batters Karim Janat and Rashid Khan couldn’t score many runs and got out in the last two overs.
Thus, Afghanistan could manage to post a modest total of 125 runs in 20 overs after losing eight wickets.
New Zealand get decent start
Daryll Mitchell and Martin Guptill opened the batting for the islanders. Mitchell played some elegant strokes but got out on 17. He edged one soon though and got caught behind the wicket, off the delivery of spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Opener Guptill whacked two back-to-back boundaries in the sixth over to finish powerplay on a peak. Afghanistan ace spinner Rashid Khan bowled out Guptill on 28 to give a glimmer of hope to Afghanistan and Indian fans.
Kane Williamson and Devon Conway help their side to semi-finals
Afghanistan skipper Nabi tried to keep the pressure on Kiwi batters by bowling his best spinners Rashid and Mujeeb in tandem. Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson and wicketkeeper batter Conway, however, played cautiously against spinners in the middle overs.
Conway smashed two boundaries off spinner Nabi in the 14th over. Both batters completed their 50-run partnership in the 16th over. Williamson and Conway added 68 runs to help their side reach the target.
With this win, New Zealand collected eight points in the Super 12 round to become the fourth team to qualify for the semi-finals of ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021. In the process, they eliminated India and Afghanistan from the tournament.
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