New Zealand beat Afghanistan to reach T20 World Cup semis and send India out

New Zealand chased down a target of 125 to defeat Afghanistan and seal their place in the T20 World Cup semi-finals. The result also confirms an early exit for India, whose final game against Namibia is now academic.

Afghanistan stumbled to 19-3 and then 56-4 before Najibullah Zadran struck 73 off 48 balls to boost their hopes of an upset and earning a place in the final four themselves. Trent Boult claimed Zadran’s wicket, one of three for the fast bowler as Afghanistan finished their 20 overs on 124-8.

New Zealand made steady progress in their response, Martin Guptill making 28 before being dismissed by Rashid Khan. The captain, Kane Williamson, shared in an unbroken stand of 68 from 57 balls for the third wicket with Devon Conway, who weighed in with 36 not out in what proved a straightforward run chase. Afghanistan, who had gone into the match with an outside chance of making the last four themselves, failed to post a competitive total.

The Black Caps were outstanding in the field and took an early grip on the game as they reduced Afghanistan to 19 for three inside the power play.

Zadran held the innings together, hitting six fours and three sixes in his 48-ball knock but Ish Sodhi and Tim Southee both struck to end promising partnerships with Gulbadin Naib and Mohammad Nabi. Zadran eventually fell to a superb diving catch from James Neesham off the bowling of Trent Boult on the long off boundary in the 19th over. Karim Janat holed out to Sodhi at long leg off the same bowler two balls later.

With Khan adding only three off seven balls, Afghanistan were restricted to 124 for eight from their allocation. Boult finished with three for 17 and Southee two for 24. Afghanistan’s hopes rested with their attack and they were at least boosted by the presence of off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who passed a fitness test to feature.

Mujeeb did account for Daryl Mitchell (17) in the fourth over and star spinner Khan removed Guptill for a brisk 28 but New Zealand never looked like falling short.

Williamson and Conway – who also each took brilliant catches in the Afghanistan innings – were largely untroubled as they completed the job. Conway, however, was perhaps lucky Afghanistan did not appeal for a caught behind early in his innings when replays suggested there may have been an edge.

Pakistan are expected to secure top spot in Group 2 by beating Scotland in Sunday’s second match. That would mean New Zealand will face England in Wednesday’s first semi-final, with Pakistan and Australia meeting on Thursday.

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