Kiwis seal semi-final place
ABU DHABI: India were sent packing from the T20 World Cup after a clinical New Zealand clinched a facile eight-wicket triumph over Afghanistan in their final Super 12 game to claim the last available semifinal spot here on Sunday.
India’s slim hopes hinged on Afghanistan upstaging the Black Caps as that would have brought the Net Run Rate into equation and opened the doors for Virat Kohli’s men, who only have themselves to blame for the ouster now.
The Kiwis were favourites to win on the day and they hardly put a foot wrong, chasing down a small target of 125 in just 18.1 overs to join England, Australia and Pakistan in the last-four stage.
Sunday’s result renders India’s final league engagement against Namibia inconsequential. The team was outplayed in its first two Super 12 matches by Pakistan and New Zealand, which proved to be its undoing.
The side did bounce back for wins over Afghanistan and Scotland but the damage done by the previous two defeats was far too much.
Kane Williamson’s men, who won four of their five Super 12 matches, will be up against either England or Australia in the semifinals.
Openers Daryl Mitchell (17), caught behind by the Mohammad Shahzad off Mujeeb ur Rahman, and Martin Guptill (28), who became Rashid Khan’s 400th wicket in T20 cricket, were the only New Zealand wickets to fall in the afternoon match.
Williamson (40 not out, 42 balls, 3 fours) looked unhurried during his knock and his half-century partnership for the third wicket with Devon Conway (36 not out) guided the team home.
They negotiated the spin threat posed by Rashid, Mujeeb and Mohammed Nabi quite well to ensure that there was no drama.
Conway got over a tentative start and hit Nabi for two boundaries in the 14th over to speed up the chase after a brief lull.
Earlier, New Zealand pacers, led by Trent Boult (3/17), dished out a clinical performance to restrict Afghanistan to 124 for 8 in their final Super 12 match of the T20 World Cup here on Sunday.
Afghanistan, who needed to win to keep their semifinal hopes alive, reached the total mainly due to the efforts of Najibullah Zadran (73 off 48 balls). Zadran stood out in a rather tepid display by the rest of his team-mates.
He struck six fours and three sixes during his brilliant innings.
The Kiwi pace trio of Boult, Tim Southee (2/24) and Adam Milne (1/17) did not give anything away in the initial overs as the Afghan batters struggled to get going and in trying to force the pace of their innings.
Ish Sodhi (1/13) and Jimmy Neesham (1/24) were the other New Zealand wicket-takers. Neesham conceded only two runs from the final over of the Afghanistan innings.
The left-handed Zadran rescued Afghanistan with a 59-run fifth wicket stand with captain Mohammed Nabi (14). The team was placed at 56 for 4 in 10 overs when the two got together and dug their heels in.
However, there was very little support for Zadran from the other batters.
A flurry of wickets after the fall of Nabi, including that of Zadran, ensured that Afghanistan did not get to a middling score.
Boult sent back Zadran and Karim Janat (2) in the 19th over as the Kiwis took control of the match.
Afghanistan got off to a poor start, losing the openers inside the first four overs.
Shahzad (4) was the first to go in the third over when his uppercut off Milne flew to wicketkeeper Devon Conway, who leapt high to complete a good catch on the second attempt.
The wily Boult struck the second blow, getting Hazratullah Zazai when the batter’s attempted flick took a leading edge for an easy catch to Mitchell Santner, leaving Afghanistan at 12 for 2.
Soon, it became 19 for 3 when Rahmanullah Gurbaz was leg-before to Tim Southee for 6.
Zadran and Gulbadin Naib (15) staged a mini recovery for Afghanistan with a 37-run partnership for the fourth wicket during which the former came up with some good shots.
However, leg-spinner Ish Sodhi broke through for the Kiwis when he had Naib chop a widish delivery on to his stumps.
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