Afghanistan beat New Zealand to reach semi-finals


New Zealand was sloppy with their fielding and dropped a couple of chances in the outfield.

"Whenever it's day here, it's midnight in Afghanistan, but they don't sleep".

Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb Zadran celebrates a wicket with a cartwheel on Thursday.

Afghanistan will now meet Australia in the first semifinal on Monday (January 29). In fact, the whole cricket-watching world would have taken note. However, Sandeep Patel castled Rahmanullah to give New Zealand their first breakthrough. He displayed excellent timing, and his inherent power ensured most of his swings found the fence.

The Afghan innings was off to an excellent start as Rahmanullah and Zadran put on an opening partnership of 117 runs in 20.4 overs. There was a slide thereafter.

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That dismissal halted Afghanistan's momentum and New Zealand clawed their way back into the match when Felix Murray dismissed new batsman Ikram Ali Khil for 4.

Zadran posted a patient innings of 68 runs off 98 balls while Shah remained unbeaten on 67 off 72 deliveries.

Afghanistan's total was always going to provide a tough ask for New Zealand and their chase never looked likely of being successful. They eventually cantered home with 23 overs to spare.

The implosion started with a run-out though, with Rachin Ravindra dismissed for nought after attempting a quick, perhaps unnecessary single.

Chasing a mammoth 310 to win, New Zealand crumbled under pressure and was bowled out for a paltry 107. When Finn Allen, the in-form big-hitter, was caught behind off Naveen-ul-Haq, Afghanistan knew they merely had to concentrate and finish the job. Igo Mahuru and Heagi Toua scored 45 and 39 respectively - the only sole contributors in the line-up, while the last six added 15 runs collectively with Jonathan Garth, who returned with a four-wicket haul, and skipper Harry Tector, who had three, running through the lower half of the line-up. PNG lost early wickets, but a stand of 78 runs between Igo Mahuru and Heagi Toua guided them past the 100-run mark. They took New Zealand into the 80s when the legspinner, Qais Ahmed, broke through after Phillips missed his full toss and was trapped in front.