New Zealand ease past Afghanistan and send India out of T20 World Cup

Kane Williamson's side book semi-final place and ensure Virat Kohli's tenure as India's T20 captain will end in disappointment

Kane Williamson said his New Zealand side are looking forward to facing England again, after booking a place in Wednesday’s semi-final in Abu Dhabi.

New Zealand beat Afghanistan by eight wickets at the Zayed Cricket Stadium on Sunday, which secured their progression to the last four behind Pakistan.

The result consigned the Afghans to the exit. It also rendered the final Super 12 match, between India and Namibia in Dubai on Monday, a dead rubber.

With it now impossible for them to advance, India cancelled their Saturday evening training session. Virat Kohli will now lead for the last time in T20 internationals in the knowledge a trophy is beyond him.

For New Zealand, though, they have the reward of place against England, who were their conquerors in the final of the 50-over version of the World Cup two years ago.

“We know they are a very strong side,” Williamson said, after making 40 not out in the run chase against the Afghans.

“For us, it is important we keep learning and focus on the good things we have been doing and the kind of cricket we want to play.

“They have been playing really nicely throughout this competition. A number of teams have.

“It has been an incredibly tough competition and we have seen a lot of tight games. We are looking forward to the occasion.”

Although England started the competition in dominant fashion, they have suffered setbacks in their past two matches.

Tymal Mills was ruled out of the tournament by a thigh injury sustained against Sri Lanka, while Jason Roy had to be helped from the field with a calf injury while batting against South Africa.

Roy went for a scan at a Dubai hospital on Sunday. If he is ruled out, England will need to reshuffle their batting line up, with Jonny Bairstow likely to be promoted to open.

“When you look at the England order they have guys who can easily slot in to open,” Adam Milne, the New Zealand fast bowler, said.

“Whatever team they put out we know it will be strong, and it is going to be a challenge.”

Afghanistan came into the match knowing a win would put them level on points with New Zealand, and a superior run-rate would put them into second in the table.

Had that happened, India would have stood a chance of leapfrogging both sides with a hefty win over Namibia.

The Afghans rarely threatened to make that happen, though. They were 19-3 at the start of the sixth over, with their powerful top three of Hazratullah Zazai, Mohammed Shahzad and Rahmanullah Gurbaz all departing cheaply.

At least Najibullah Zadran gave them something to bowl at. The left-hander made 73 in 48 balls to help his side to 124-8.

Trent Boult was the pick of New Zealand’s bowlers, with 3-17, while James Neesham held a fine diving catch on the boundary and conceded just two runs from the final over of Afghanistan’s innings.

Afghanistan’s main threats with the ball, Mujeeb ur Rahman and Rashid Khan, each tasted success during New Zealand’s run chase.

Mujeeb had Daryl Mitchell caught at the wicket by Shahzad for 17, and Rashid bowled the in-form Martin Guptill for 28.

Those dismissals apart, the going was easy for New Zealand’s batters. Devon Conway, with 36 not out, and Williamson took them to the win with 11 balls to spare.

Mohammed Nabi, Afghanistan’s captain, said his side’s batters had not done enough to force the win.

“On this kind of pitch, this is not a decent total,” Nabi said.

“Still we tried our best with the ball. We played good cricket in the tournament, and we will take a lot of positives. We need to correct the mistakes we made with the bat.”

Updated: November 7th 2021, 3:52 PM
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