New Zealand beat Afghanistan to knock India out of World T20
New Zealand clinically beat Afghanistan by eight wickets to secure a place in the semi-finals of the Men’s T20 World Cup and eliminate pre-tournament favourites India.
The Black Caps join Pakistan in progressing from Group Two and will likely meet England in the last four.
They were exceptional in the field, holding Afghanistan, who needed a win to maintain their own slim hopes, to 124-8.
Najibullah Zadran hit 73 from 48 balls, but Trent Boult took 3-17 and the New Zealand fielders held onto three superb catches.
Although Daryl Mitchell fell for 17 and Martin Guptill 28, captain Kane Williamson hit a typically calm 40 not out as his side eased to victory with 11 balls to spare.
The win puts New Zealand top of the group table, but unbeaten Pakistan would retake the position with victory over Scotland in their final group game on Sunday in Sharjah.
India, who required an Afghanistan victory to stay in contention after defeats in their opening two games, are eliminated before their final match against Namibia on Monday.
Professional New Zealand down Afghanistan – and India
There may have been a sparse crowd in Abu Dhabi but there were millions – possibly more than a billion – of interested followers around the world, given this match effectively decided the fate of three nations in this tournament.
India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin tweeted his support for Afghanistan before the game, but sadly for Indian and Afghan hopes, New Zealand are probably the most professional outfit in world cricket.
Their trusty seamers – Boult, Tim Southee and Adam Milne – reduced Afghanistan to 19-3 and any hopes of an upset were already fading inside six overs.
New Zealand’s fielding was brilliant. Wicketkeeper Devon Conway took a leaping catch to dismiss Mohammad Shahzad, Jimmy Neesham’s tumbling grab at long-off ended Zadran’s innings and Williamson clung onto a ball dropping over his shoulder after running back from extra cover to see off Rashid Khan.
There was also a spectacular diving boundary save from Daryl Mitchell which denied Rashid a six on the mid-wicket boundary.
New Zealand took a measured approach to the chase, but, after playing himself in, Conway swept two fours in the 14th over to alleviate any pressure.
He ended 36 not out alongside Williamson, the pair sharing an unbeaten stand of 68, although Conway should have been caught behind early on when Afghanistan did not appeal for what replays showed to be a thin edge.
Conway calmly knocked the winning runs at the start of the penultimate over for a win that, unless Scotland upset Pakistan, sets up a repeat of the 2019 50-over World Cup final.
It will also begin an inquest in India – this the first time the nation has failed to reach the semi-finals of a men’s 50 or 20-over World Cup since 2012. (BBC Sport)