• Proteas to face Afghanistan in semi-finals

    Afghanistan defeated Bangladesh by eight runs to reach the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup on Monday in a dramatic victory that eliminated Australia from the tournament.

    Afghanistan will now face South Africa (Thursday, 2:30am SA time), with England meeting India in the other semi-final (Thursday, 4:30pm SA time).

    Amid excruciating tension at the Arnos Vale Stadium in St Vincent, Afghan captain Rashid Khan and seamer Naveen ul Haq were the heroes as Afghanistan battled through three rain stoppages to secure a famous victory under the DLS scoring method that was sealed after 1am local time.

    Defending a modest total of 115-5 on a bowler-friendly surface, Rashid finished with figures of 4-23 while Naveen took 4-26 as Bangladesh were dismissed for 105, chasing a revised target of 114 off 19 overs.

    An unbeaten 54 from Bangladesh opener Litton Das (49 balls, five fours, one six) threatened to deny Afghanistan’s fairytale win and earn Australia the last semi-final spot.

    But pacer Naveen claimed the last two wickets – Taskin Ahmed and Mustafizur Rahman – off consecutive deliveries to trigger delirious Afghan celebrations and leave a disconsolate Das stranded at the non-striker’s end.

    “We have worked so hard over the past few years and we were dreaming of this day. It’s a surreal experience,” said a relieved but delighted Man of the Match Naveen.

    “We always knew they were going to be coming hard at us to try to get the target in 12.1 overs but we stuck to the task and kept getting wickets.”

    With India defeating Australia earlier in the day and advancing to the second semi-final against England in Guyana on Thursday, this result assured the Afghans of second spot in the group and eliminated the Aussies and Bangladeshis.

    Earlier, leg-spinner Rishad Hossain claimed 3-26 to lead the impressive Bangladeshi bowling effort.

    Despite another good opening stand – 59 off 10.4 overs – the Afghans failed to capitalise on that platform with top-scorer Rahmanullah Gurbaz’s laborious 43 off 55 balls typifying the struggle to get the ball away.

    Ibrahim Zadran and Azmatullah Omarzai managed to get into double-figures but the rate of scoring remained pedestrian throughout.

    Seamer Taskin, one of two changes to the Bangladesh team which lost heavily to semi-final qualifiers India in their last match two days ago, produced a superb four-over spell, conceding just 12 runs for the wicket of former captain Mohammad Nabi.

    “I think through the whole tournament we’ve been bowling pretty well,” said a disappointed Bangladesh captain Najmul Hossain Shanto.

    “As a batting group though we have a lot of improvement to make. We didn’t make good decisions and going forward we need to think about our batting.”

    It was left to Rashid (19*) to belt three sixes – there was only one more in the entire innings – in the final two overs to help dribble the score over the 100-run mark.

    “The belief came when we beat New Zealand [at the group stage],” said the Afghan captain in explaining his team’s journey to this unprecedented achievement.

    “We thought 130-135 would be a good total on this wicket, but still, we knew if we stuck to our plans we would have a good chance to defend the total.

    “We just gave 100% effort, to make the country and the people back home proud of us.”

    Β© Agence France-Presse

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    Simon Borchardt