T20 World Cup: Afghanistan claim historic Australia scalp to keep semi-final hopes alive

22 June 2024, 22:28 | Updated: 23 June 2024, 12:51

Afghanistan kept their T20 World Cup semi-final hopes alive by stunning previously unbeaten Australia by 21 runs in a thrilling encounter on Saturday.

Despite Pat Cummins becoming the third bowler in history to claim a hat-trick in successive innings, Afghanistan posted 148-6 after being asked to bat first on a tricky pitch at the Arnos Vale Ground.

Afghanistan pair Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran put on 118 for the highest opening partnership against Australia in a T20 match before Australia's bowlers rallied late, including Cummins' second career hat-trick - just two days after his first.

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Australia then stumbled with the bat and were all out for 127, with only Glenn Maxwell (59 off 41 balls) coming to grips with the superb Afghanistan bowling attack and the turning wicket.

Man of the match Guldabin Naib took four wickets in an inspired spell in the middle overs to stall Australia's chase before Azmatullah Omarzai had final wicket Adam Zampa caught in the deep in the final over to complete a stunning win amid jubilant celebrations among the Afghan players and team management.

The victory moves Afghanistan to two points in Group 1 and level with Australia, but behind on net run rate. India lead the group on four points. Bangladesh are bottom after two losses but still have a chance of qualifying for the semifinals.

"It's a massive win for us as a team and as a nation in the World Cup beating (the) champions," captain Rashid Khan said.

"It's so important for us back home and for everyone all around the world. Where Afghanistan people, the Afghans are there, they are badly missing this win and I'm sure they would have been so proud of and they would have enjoyed the game and I think it's just the beginning now for us."

Marsh: Afghanistan a danger team

"They are a very good cricket team who play against the best all the time," Australia captain Mitchell Marsh said. "And they have improved a hell of a lot over the last few years. And we know certainly in these conditions that, they're a big danger team. They outplayed us tonight, credit to them."

Australia take on India in St. Lucia on Monday knowing they will likely need a victory to guarantee their passage to the semi-finals.

Marsh added: "First things first. Recover. You know, we got a lot of belief in our group. We are a very good cricket team. Yes, tonight we had an off night, but I guess there's also a positive in the fact that in 36 hours, we go again. So, it's a big game.

"It'll be against India, and it's a must win game. I think if you look back at the short history of this team, hopefully. Well, I know for a fact that it brings out the best in our guys. So, the boys will certainly be up and about for it."

Earlier, Gurbaz scored 60 off 49 balls, while Zadran made a steady 51 off 48 balls as they laid a solid platform - helped by some uncharacteristically poor fielding by Australia.

Marcus Stoinis eventually made the breakthrough in the 16th over, dismissing Gurbaz which led to a flurry of wickets as the momentum shifted.

Adam Zampa (2-28) took two wickets in the next over, including Zadran's, before Pat Cummins again came to the fore. The seam bowler had Rashid Khan (two) caught by Tim David in the deep with the final ball off the 18th over.

Cummins (3-28) returned to bowl the final over of the innings and with his first ball had Karim Janat (13) again caught by David.

For the hat-trick ball, Cummins cleverly disguised a slower delivery which Guldabin Naib could only loft to Glenn Maxwell running in from the boundary to claim the catch.

Australia stumbled early in the chase as it lost Travis Head bowled by Naveen-ul-Haq for no score with the third ball of the innings.

Captain Mitchell Marsh (12) played two big shots before he was Naveen's second wicket and when David Warner (three) was out to spinner Mohammad Nabi's first ball the Aussies were in trouble at 32-3 in the sixth over.

Stoinis and Maxwell steadied the Australian innings as they reached 70-3 at the halfway stage.

Gulbadin (4-20) was the eighth bowler used by Afghanistan inside the first 11 overs and it paid a near instant dividend as Stoinis could only sky a pull shot which was caught by Gurbaz.

Gulbadin then removed David (two) and when the allrounder had Maxwell spectacularly caught by Noor Ahmad an upset victory appeared likely.

Australia's lower-order batters couldn't find the big hits that the moment demanded either and when veteran Nabi took a catch on the boundary to dismiss Zampa (nine), Afghanistan's deserved victory was confirmed.

What's next?

Australia face India in St Lucia on Monday (live from 3pm on Sky Sports Cricket, first ball 3.30pm), while Afghanistan round off their Super 8s campaign against Bangladesh on Tuesday (live from 1.30am on Sky Sports Cricket. The two semi-finals take place on Thursday June 27, ahead of the final on June 29.

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