Monday, July 15, 2024

Farooqi seals Afghanistan’s maiden Super Eight berth


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Tarouba, June 14: Left-arm pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi, who continued his brilliant form, and Naveen-ul-Haq led Afghanistan’s seven-wicket rout of Papua New Guinea that also sealed their maiden Super Eight entry in the T20 World Cup here.
Gulbadin Naib scored an unbeaten 49 as Afghanistan gunned down the target of 96 in 15.1 overs overcoming early jitters. Earlier, PNG were bundled out for 95.
The result also meant that New Zealand, the 2021 finalists, have been knocked out of the ICC showpiece. The Kiwis find themselves at the bottom of the table with two defeats from as many matches.
The tournament co-hosts West Indies have already entered the Super Eight from Group C with six points, same as the Afghans.
Meanwhile, New Zealand will face Uganda and PNG in their remaining two matches, which will now be of mere academic interest.
Cutting back to the match, Farooqi took two wickets in two balls in his second over and finished with 3/16 from his four overs after Rashid Khan opted to bowl.
He now has a combined figures of 11.2-0-42-12 to lead the bowling chart in this competition.
His pace bowling partner Naveen provided the perfect assistance, returning with a miserly 2.5-0-4-2 as PNG were bowled out in 19.5 overs. Semo Kamea was run out in the penultimate delivery of their innings.
It would have been much worse for PNG had Afghanistan not leaked 25 runs in extras, and 13 of them were in wides.
This was yet another superlative display by the Afghanistan bowlers who are yet to concede 100 runs in this tournament — Uganada (58; 16 overs), New Zealand (75, 15.2 overs).
“Feeling great to qualify for the next round. First time for Afghanistan being in Super Eight in T20Is. The boys have done well, adjusting to the conditions very quickly and that is something very pleasing for me,” said skipper Rashid Khan.
Congratulating the team, Farooqi said: “I feel proud. Before the warm-up match, I was in the IPL. I did not get any chances there unfortunately. I played just one warm-up game.
“I know how to carry my body and I just tried to keep it simple. I try to get some wickets if there is some movement or swing. If there is nothing, then I try to go to plan B, not to go for boundaries and keep it simple,” he said.
However, Afghanistan stuttered in their small chase as both their in-form openers — Rahmanullah Gurbaz (11) and Ibrahim Zadran (0) — were dismissed by the gritty PNG new-ball bowlers Alei Nao and Kamea inside three overs.
But Gulbadin Naib ensured that there was no further disruption as he returned to form and anchored the chase with his 36-ball 49 not out.
Naib, who was yet to score in double digits, took his time before coming on his own, hitting four fours and two sixes.
PNG kept chipping away with the wickets as Norman Vanua got rid of Azmutullah Omarzai (13, 18 balls) against the run of play, but Mohammed Nabi stayed calm and provided assistance to Naib who sealed it with a six over Chad Soper’s head.
But PNG started positively and showed intent while running between the wickets before Assad Vala found himself out of his crease. (PTI)


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