With a nail-biting four-run victory over Afghanistan on Friday, Glenn Maxwell hit an undefeated half-century to keep Australia in the running for the Twenty20 World Cup semifinals.
The outcome assured that New Zealand, which defeated Ireland in the opening game of the day in Adelaide, would secure a position in the final four from Group 1.
To advance to the semifinals, the hosts and defending champions Australia now need England to lose their final Super 12 encounter against Sri Lanka on Saturday.
At the Adelaide Oval, Maxwell’s 32-ball 54 helped Australia reach 168-8, a total their bowlers successfully defended by holding the Afghans to 164-7.
Rashid Khan made quick work of the chase with an undefeated 48 off 23 balls, and he hammered 16 runs off Marcus Stoinis’ final over to keep the home audience on edge almost until the very end.
Prior to being given the opportunity to bat first, Australia had hamstring injuries to captain Aaron Finch, vice captain Tim David, and speed bowler Mitchell Starc.
David Warner was dismissed for 28 runs, while Steve Smith, who was making his comeback, was dismissed for four runs by Naveenul Haq, shattering Australia’s top order. He gave back fantastic numbers of 3-21.
In the second over of the contest, the left-handed Warner came out swinging and smashed spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman for three straight boundaries.
In the following over, he lost fellow opener Cameron Green to Fazalhaq Farooqi, who claimed two wickets, but continued the attack with Mitchell Marsh, who smacked 45 off 30 balls.
Warner was struck by Naveen’s fastball, and four balls later, Smith was given out cheaply. Marsh made an effort to counter with a six and two fours against Gulbadin Naib, but he was unable to capitalise on them and was left behind by Mujeeb’s mysterious spin.
Maxwell and Stoinis, who scored Australia’s quickest T20 50 in the victory against Sri Lanka (17 balls), then started to score runs against the Afghan bowlers before Rashid Khan made a breakthrough.
Stoinis hit Rashid for a six over mid-wicket but left after only 25 deliveries as Afghanistan continued to make inroads.
Beginning the response, Rahmanullah Gurbaz dominated the Australian bowlers. In the first over of the chase, he struck Josh Hazlewood for four and six.
Usman Ghani was removed by Hazlewood for two runs, while Gurbaz was removed by Kane Richardson in the third over after Starc had been replaced for the crucial match.
With a few solid hits, including a six off Green, Gulbadin Naib, who scored 39 off 23 balls, attempted to restart the chase as Afghanistan reached 72-2 in 10 overs and threatened an upset.
With Ibrahim Zadran, who scored 26, Naib put together a dangerous 58-run stand, but a direct throw from Maxwell in the deep struck out the dangerman at the non-run. striker’s
When Adam Zampa dismissed Ibrahim for 26 and Najibullah Zadran in the following three balls, the chase was effectively over.
Rashid, who finished eighth, battled to the very end with three fours and four sixes. Afghanistan exited the competition with two losses and no victories.
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