T20 World Cup: India fall short as New Zealand seal semi-final place

By Sports Desk November 07, 2021

New Zealand qualified for the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup with an eight-wicket win over Afghanistan, who have been eliminated along with India in the process.

India needed Afghanistan to beat the Black Caps, before also having to beat Namibia themselves, but it was not to be as victory for Kane Williamson's men sees them progress from Group 2 along with Pakistan, with England and Australia already through from Group 1.

Any other outcome rarely looked likely in Abu Dhabi as Afghanistan got off to a cumbersome start in their innings, only managing 23 runs for the loss of three wickets during the powerplay.

Najibullah Zadran was the only batsman to impress, hitting 73 from 48 balls including six boundaries and three sixes, before being caught by Jimmy Neesham off the bowling of Trent Boult.

Boult was the pick of the New Zealand bowlers with 3-17, though Tim Southee (2-24) became the second all-time leading wicket taker for the Black Caps in ICC Men’s T20 World Cup history as Afghanistan were limited to 124-8.

A fast start for New Zealand saw 26 runs come from the first three overs, only for Daryl Mitchell (17) to fall from the first ball of the fourth over, caught behind off the bowling of Mujeeb Ur Rahman.

Rashid Khan, who had already made history in the tournament by taking 100 wickets in T20Is in the fewest innings (53), clinched his 400th wicket in the format, clean bowling Martin Guptill for 28.

Despite that minor setback, New Zealand eases to victory, with Williamson (four) and Devon Conway (36) knocking off the remainder of the total.

Najibullah effort in vain

At times it felt like a one-man-innings from Afghanistan, with Najibullah hitting 73 of their 124 runs himself. Without him, it is doubtful his team-mates would have reached three figures.

Najibullah ended the tournament as his team's top scorer, knocking 172 runs in his five innings.

Williamson gets everything right

The New Zealand captain knew how crucial victory was here, and followed up a superb innings for his team in the field by calmly seeing them home with the bat to book their place in the semi-finals.

Williamson and Conway were happy to score around a run a ball, taking no risks and comfortably reaching the modest target set by Afghanistan. The Black Caps have now won each of their last four T20 World Cup matches; the only other time they have enjoyed a four-match winning run at the tournament was in March 2016.

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