New Zealand and England were the major winners from a match neither of them took part in at the T20 World Cup on Friday as Australia ended up beating Afghanistan by only four runs, reports AP.
New Zealand, which earlier defeated Ireland by 35 runs, secured their semifinal spot because Australia needed a crushing win to match the Kiwis. New Zealand’s run rate of 2.113 makes them the favourites to finish atop Group 1 ahead of England as well as Australia.
England were also smiling as they will advance if they beat Sri Lanka in Sydney on Saturday, with the added satisfaction of knocking out traditional rival Australia. If Sri Lanka win, Australia qualify for the semifinals. Both New Zealand and Australia have seven points, two more than third-place England and three more than Sri Lanka.
It could have been even worse for the hosts but Marcus Stoinis held his nerve in the final over to give Australia a hard-earned win against last-place Afghanistan.
Glenn Maxwell’s 54 not out off 32 balls helped Australia to 168-8 after being asked to bat. Afghanistan smashed their way to 164-7 in reply with Rashid Khan scoring 48 not out off 23 balls. Rashid needed to score 22 off the last six balls but Stoinis was able to restrict him, and Afghanistan, to 17.
Australia looked dejected at the end of the match with their players knowing they needed to restrict Afghanistan to 106 or less to earn a higher net run rate than England.
Now Australia’s net run rate is minus 0.173 and their fate is no longer in their hands.
Australia struggled to find momentum throughout their innings as their batters were tasked with scoring quick runs and lots of them. Cameron Green was out for three and David Warner for 25. Mitchell Marsh drove the Australia innings in the first half, with 45 off 30 balls. He hit three fours and two sixes.
Regular wickets meant Australia were 52-3 in six overs at one stage. Marsh was out caught off Mujeeb ur Rahman (1-42) leaving Australia at 86-4 in 10.4 overs.
Maxwell then took charge and smacked six fours as well as two sixes. Stoinis gave him company with 25 off 21 balls. The duo put on 53 off 29 for the fifth wicket.
Australia lost Matthew Wade (6) and Pat Cummins (0), but Maxwell rallied his side to a par score.
Naveen-ul-Haq took 3-21.
“Their clean hitting gave us a bit of scare. I was glad to have an impact with the bat and in the field. We were trying to go hard, but they bowled extremely well in the last four overs,” Maxwell said.
In reply, Afghanistan lost Usman Ghani early but scored 47-2 in the powerplay.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz scored 30 off 17 balls, while Gulbadin Naib hit 39 off 23 to keep his side in the hunt.
Maxwell ran out Naib with a straight hit from deep midwicket in the 14th over. Afghanistan then lost two more wickets in the next three deliveries to Adam Zampa, who returned 2-22.
It brought Rashid Khan to the crease, who hit four sixes and three fours to bring the match into balance before Stoinis prevailed.
Earlier, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson posted a half-century and his spinners checked Ireland’s scoring rate. Williamson scored 61 off 35 balls as New Zealand reached 185-6 after being sent in to bat, his innings negating Ireland pace bowler Josh Little’s hat-trick.
Ireland were restricted to 150-9 in reply, with Lockie Ferguson taking 3-22 for New Zealand while spinners Mitchell Santner (2-26) and Ish Sodhi (2-31) took key wickets at the top of the order.