Afghanistan beat PNG by seven wickets, reach Super Eight

The Uncut

Tarouba. Afghanistan made it to the Super Eight stage of the T20 World Cup for the first time by defeating Papua New Guinea (PNG) by seven wickets in Group C here due to the sharp bowling of Fazalhaq Farooqi and Naveen Ul Haq. Batting first, PNG’s team was reduced to 95 runs in 19.5 overs in front of the sharp bowling of left-arm fast bowler Farooqi (three wickets for 16 runs) and Naveen (two wickets for four runs).

In response, Afghanistan recovered from the initial setbacks and won by scoring 101 runs for three wickets in 15.1 overs. Gulbadin Naib scored an unbeaten 49 off 36 balls to take the team to the target. With six points from three wins in three matches, Afghanistan became the second team from Group C to make it to the Super Eight. Co-hosts West Indies (six points) have already made it to the next round. With this, New Zealand, which made it to the final of the 2021 tournament, is out of the competition. New Zealand has lost two consecutive matches. The team is at the last position in the points table and its account of points is yet to be opened.

New Zealand will now play their last two matches against Uganda and PNG which are mere formalities. Afghanistan will play their first match in the Super Eight stage against India on 20 June in Barbados. Rashid Khan won the toss and decided to bowl first after which Farooqi gave the team a great start by taking two wickets in his second over. He has so far taken 12 wickets for 42 runs in 11.2 overs in the tournament.

Farooqi’s fast bowling partner Naveen supported him well and took two wickets for four runs in 2.5 overs. PNG’s innings ended in 19.5 overs with the run out of Semo Kamiya. PNG’s condition would have been worse if Afghanistan had not given 25 extra runs. This also includes 13 runs from wides.

Afghanistan’s bowlers are in great form in the tournament and not even 100 runs have been scored against them so far. The team had earlier restricted Uganda to 58 runs in 16 overs and New Zealand to 75 runs in 15.2 overs. Kiplin Doriga scored the highest 27 runs for PNG. Apart from him, only openers Tori Ura (11) and Alei Nao (13) could reach double figures.

Afghanistan also had a bad start while chasing the target and the team lost the wickets of both its in-form openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz (11) and Ibrahim Zadran (00) in the third over for just 22 runs. Zadran was bowled by Kamiya while Gurbaz was bowled by Nao. However, Gulbadin along with Mohammad Nabi (16 not out) made an unbroken partnership of 46 runs for the fourth wicket to take the team to the target.

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