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Afghanistan qualify for World Cup semi-final

  • Afghanistan qualify for first World Cup semi-final making history.

Afghanistan qualified for the semi-finals of a World Cup for the first time in their history by beating Bangladesh in a low-scoring classic in St Vincent.

The victory sees them progress as runners-up from Super 8s Group 1, while putting their opponents and heavyweights Australia out of the tournament.

Entering the match needing a win to advance to the knockout stage, Afghanistan underperformed in the first innings, setting Bangladesh a low target of 115.

A rollercoaster, rain-interrupted second innings ensued, in which both sides and then Australia looked to be favourites to progress at different stages of the chase.

Ultimately it was Afghanistan who emerged triumphant, with captain Rashid Khan and Naveen-ul-Haq taking four wickets apiece to secure a win by just eight runs.

They will now play South Africa in the semi-finals in Trinidad on Thursday (01:30 BST), and are one match away from facing either England or India in Saturday’s final.

Their opposition, who were also seeking to reach their first World Cup semi-final, needed to win by a large margin to qualify on net run-rate.

They successfully throttled the dangerous Afghanistan opening pair of Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran, who both fell to leg-spinner Rishad Hossain (3-26).

Set a reachable total, Bangladesh knew they had to win in 12.1 overs to turn the net run-rate (NRR) in their favour, but lost veteran Shakib al Hasan and captain Najmul Hossain Shanto to successive balls from Naveen in the third over.

Having failed to secure victory in time, the Tigers remained in contention for a consolation win that would have seen Australia qualify instead of their opponents, but captain Rashid took 4-23 to keep Afghanistan in the match, before Naveen took the final two Bangladesh wickets either side of a rain delay to begin rapturous celebrations.

Brilliant Afghanistan keep making history

For Afghanistan, qualification for the semi-final was another step on the remarkable journey they’ve taken since first qualifying for a T20 World Cup in 2010.

Having emerged from a labyrinth system of qualifying events in the 2000s, they have established themselves as perennial tournament qualifiers, but exited before the knockout rounds in their nine previous World Cup campaigns, spanning both T20s and ODIs.

They progressed from the first of two group stages in this year’s competition, finishing runners-up in Group C, but lost heavily in their final match against the West Indies, and were easily beaten by India in the first match of the Super 8s.

However, they came roaring back to defeat previously-unbeaten Australia on Sunday to put themselves in the driving seat for semi-final qualification against Bangladesh.

Much of their success in this tournament has been off the back of a mountain of runs from openers Gurbaz and Zadran, but the pair found themselves becalmed, reaching 58 at the halfway stage of the first innings.

Zadran fell shortly afterwards, while Gurbaz failed to push on, finally falling for 43 off 56 balls in the 17th over, his side just scraping past the hundred mark in the penultimate over.

Bangladesh had to play riskily to have a chance of progressing, and fell to 23-3 within three overs.

Nonetheless they continued to edge towards their target around short rain showers, provoking irritated reactions on the boundary from Jonathan Trott, who has coached Afghanistan since 2022.

But the ex-England batter could rely on his bank of quality bowlers to ensure another chapter in Afghanistan’s storied cricketing journey was written in St Vincent.

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