T20 World Cup: Australia beat Afghanistan by four runs

ADELAIDE — Australia managed to survive a late cameo from Rashid Khan to edge Afghanistan by four runs in their final Group 1 match in Super 12s of Men’s T20 World Cup at the Adelaide Oval on Friday.

After Glenn Maxwell made an unbeaten 54 off 32 balls to carry Australia to a competitive 168/6, Gulbadin Naib and Ibrahim Zadran were leading Afghanistan to a famous win with their 59-run stand-off 46 balls for the third wicket.

But Australia made a comeback, triggering an Afghanistan collapse from 99/2 to 103/6. But Rashid kept the fight alive for an improbable victory with a 23-ball 48, hitting three fours and four sixes at a strike rate of 208.7.

But he had too much to do in the end for a famous victory, even though he caused an almighty scare to Australia as Afghanistan ended at 164/7 in 20 overs. Australia now need Sri Lanka to beat England at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday to give the hosts and defending champions a ticket to the semifinals.

In the chase, Rahmanullah Gurbaz got Afghanistan off to a quick start and was looking dangerous but Kane Richardson struck in his opening over to send him back for a 17-ball 30 while Josh Hazlewood took out Usman Ghani cheaply. Naib and Zadran joined forces to power Afghanistan’s charge for a famous win.

While Naib hit a quick-fire 23-ball 39, hitting three fours and two sixes, Zadran supported him in the third wicket stand with 26 off 33 balls. But Afghanistan lost a flurry of wickets, getting Australia back into the contest.

Naib was run out by a direct hit from Glenn Maxwell in the deep before Adam Zampa removed Ibrahim Zadran and Najibullah Zadran while Josh Hazelwood removed Mohammad Nabi, as Australia saw hopes of bowling out Afghanistan.

Rashid hit some late boundaries to ensure Afghanistan were in the reckoning for a late win. After Darwish Rasooli was run-out in the 19th over, Australia were able to defend 22 off the final over despite Rashid hitting two fours and a six against a bowling attack that needed to bowl out Afghanistan for 106 or less to overhaul England’s net run rate.

Brief scores: Australia 168/8 in 20 overs (Glenn Maxwell 54 not out, Mitchell Marsh 45; Naveen-ul-Haq 3/21, Fazalhaq Farooqui 2/29) beat Afghanistan 164/7 in 20 overs (Rashid Khan 48 not out, Gulbadin Naib 39; Adam Zampa 2/22, Josh Hazlewood 2/33) by four runs. — (IANS)