Sports, Cricket

Kiwis thru to semis

Published : 07 Nov 2021 10:33 PM | Updated : 08 Nov 2021 02:50 PM

New Zealand have confirmed their semi-finals berth of the T20 World Cup after beating Afghanistan by 8 wickets in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. Pakistan, New Zealand, England and Australia will now play in the semi-finals of the World Cup.

The Kiwis will take on England in the first semi-final on Thursday.

With three teams (New Zealand, India, Afghanistan) vying for one spot, the equation was simplest for New Zealand and they made light work of Afghanistan. In a must-win game for both teams, the Kiwi pacers exerted a lot of pressure on the Afghan batters by removing the top three inside the powerplay. Najibullah Zadran was impressive with the bat but none of the other batters made any notable contributions and Afghanistan ended up with a below-par score. Chasing 125 for a spot in the semis, the openers came out with a positive intent and the asking-rate was brought down under 6 RPO in three overs. Daryl Mitchell fell to Mujeeb and the situation was tailor-made for Kane Williamson.

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After conceding 45 runs in the powerplay, the Afghanistan bowlers tightened the screws in the middle overs. But they were defending a very modest score. Williamson joined hands with Conway and the duo hardly broke any sweat. While the former was calm as he always is, the latter employed the sweep shots - conventional and reverse - to good effect against the spinners. An unbeaten 68-run stand for the third wicket and New Zealand won with 11 balls to spare. Williamson scored 42-ball 40 and Conway scored 32-ball 36 and that's how the 'Nice Guys' of international cricket dashed the hopes of India and Afghanistan.      

Meanwhile, after being sent to bowl first Kiwis restricted the Afghans to a low total of 125. So, 125 is what New Zealand needed to qualify for the semi-finals and perhaps keep themselves in the hunt for the first place in the group. Afghanistan needed a big start, but that wasn't coming, the top-order was blown away within the batting powerplay. Najibullah Zadran led the recovery, with some smart cricket, as he added vital partnerships with Gulbadin Naib and Mohammad Nabi.

They did look like finishing strongly, but New Zealand struck back, taking 4 for 9 from the last 13 balls, restricting their opponents to a modest score. Kiwis chased the score down easily, regardless of Afghanistan's mystery bowlers

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