Afghanistan Storms into Super Eight; New Zealand Knocked Out of T20 World Cup

Afghanistan secured their place in the Super Eight of the T20 World Cup 2024, effectively knocking New Zealand out of the tournament with a decisive seven-wicket victory over Papua New Guinea (PNG) in Tarouba.

By helping bundle out PNG for 95, Fazalhaq Farooqi and Naveen-ul-Haq helped set up the victory.

Afghanistan Storms into Super Eight; New Zealand Knocked Out of T20 World Cup
Due to his 3 for 16 performance, Fazalhaq Farooqi was named Player of the Match. ICC via Getty Images

Papua New Guinea 95 (Doriga 27, Farooqi 3-16, Naveen 2-4) lost to Afghanistan 101 for 3 (Naib 49*, Kamea 1-16) by seven wickets.

Fast bowlers Fazalhaq Farooqi and Naveen-ul-Haq’s new-ball performances, which caused PNG to lose five wickets in the powerplay, laid the groundwork for their victory. PNG’s fate was not improved by a total of four run-outs, as they were dismissed for 95.

With 29 balls remaining, Afghanistan easily won, and Gulbadin Naib continued his undefeated streak at 49. As a result, New Zealand lost out before reaching the ODI or T20 semifinals of a men’s World Cup for the first time since 2014. Afghanistan leads Group C with a net run rate of 4.230 and six points.

Afghanistan would not have been alarmed by a target of 96. In their first two games together, Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran had each added century stands for the first wicket. During those trips, Gurbaz had hit fifty runs. The middle order consequently had very little time in the center. Afghanistan’s greatest nightmares almost materialized on Thursday.

Following Charles Amini’s dismissal as vice captain, Semo Kamea nearly hit the first ball when Ibrahim was declared leg before wicket. He took advantage of the DRS, but three balls later, when attempting to attack an inswinger from Kamea, he lost his stumps. Alei Neo, a fast bowler, dismissed Gurbaz in the subsequent over. Gurbaz then came charging down to hurl one over the boundary. Had wicketkeeper Kiplin Doriga held onto Naib’s outside edge in the fifth over, PNG might have exerted even more pressure on Afghanistan.

On a pitch with dry grass, which Daren Ganga had mentioned in his pitch assessment added to the uneven bounce, PNG were left to lament those opportunities. The example came from Azmatullah Omarzai’s dismissal, as he was bowled by Norman Vanua’s length ball that hardly got off the ground. However, Naib and Muhammad Nabi overcame the circumstances to guarantee Afghanistan will not see any more disruptions.

Also Read: Bangladesh’s Victory Over Netherlands Paves Way to T20 World Cup Super Eights

PNG was put in and got off to nearly the perfect start. They were moving without taking any chances: a cut shot for four, a double through fine leg, and a single through point. However, everything went wrong when Assad Vala, the captain, was out in the second over. Gurbaz hit a straight hit at the bowler’s end as he was going for the third run, his bat in the air at the non-striker’s end. Vala would have been safe had he slid his bat.

Then Farooqi did what he does best: he used swing to fool batters. Gurbaz dove full length to his right to catch Lega Siaka behind, and on the subsequent ball, Sese Bau similarly nicked one behind.

PNG had lost four wickets in nine balls when Naveen got Hiri Hiri to chop one against his stumps on the opening delivery of the fourth over. Taking the field first on a field that had played host to the West Indies vs. New Zealand match only a day before was giving the advantage away for sure.

PNG were down to 30 for 5 when Naveen ran through Tony Ura to claim his 50th wicket in T20Is. At that moment, PNG needed to bat a few overs safely, and Chad Soper and Doriga did just that for 24 balls, putting up 16 runs. However, both were guilty of ball-watching in the tenth over, which led to Soper being run out.

Doriga then rotated strikes against Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmad with the slog sweep and sweep. When the seamers bowled on his pads, Neo retaliated. The pair added 38 off 34 balls in an efficient but unenterprising manner.

After Doriga was trapped leg before wicket by a wrong’un from Noor, PNG lost their final three wickets for a total of seven runs.

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