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T20 WC 2024: Holi-like celebrations erupt in Afghanistan, players dance after reaching 1st-ever semis (WATCH)

Rashid Khan spearheaded Afghanistan's historic journey to their first T20 World Cup 2024 semifinal with a thrilling eight-run victory over Bangladesh in a rain-affected Super 8 match in Kingstown on Tuesday.

T20 WC 2024: Holi-like celebrations erupt in Afghanistan, players dance after reaching 1st-ever semis (WATCH) snt
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First Published Jun 25, 2024, 12:54 PM IST

Rashid Khan spearheaded Afghanistan's historic journey to their first T20 World Cup 2024 semifinal with a thrilling eight-run victory over Bangladesh in a rain-affected Super 8 match in Kingstown on Tuesday. This achievement marks a remarkable milestone in Afghan cricketing history, overcoming adversities such as war, political challenges, and even the absence of a home ground.

In a stunning display, Rashid Khan's team ousted the reigning 2021 champions Australia, having already defeated them earlier in the Super 8 stage. The Afghan team now prepares to face South Africa in the semifinals scheduled for June 27.

"It's unbelievable, I don't have any words to describe my feelings. Back home, everyone is so happy for this big achievement," Rashid said in the post-match presentation.

After securing the victory, Afghanistan players celebrated their historic achievement with a jubilant dance, capturing the joyous moment on the field. Meanwhile, across Afghanistan, fans erupted in nationwide celebrations, rejoicing in Rashid Khan and his team's remarkable accomplishment.

Take a look:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ICC (@icc)

 

Afghanistan chose to bat after winning the toss but stumbled to a below-par 115/5 as Bangladesh's bowlers capitalized on a tricky pitch, bowling 66 dot balls.

Leg-spinner Rishad Hossain led the charge with figures of 3/26. Afghanistan's opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz scored a painstaking 43 off 55 balls.

Due to persistent rain interruptions, the match was shortened to 19 overs per side, requiring Bangladesh to chase a revised target of 114 runs for victory.

Afghanistan then demonstrated their resilience in international cricket since becoming a full ICC member in 2017, delivering a gritty bowling performance. Rashid Khan took 4/23 and pacer Naveen-ul-Haq picked up 4/26 to restrict Bangladesh and secure a memorable victory.

Afghanistan's heroics ensured a historic and successful defence of their low score as they bowled out Bangladesh for 105 in just 17.5 overs.

Litton Das was the lone warrior for Bangladesh with an unbeaten 54, amidst a game that saw some controversial delaying tactics by Afghanistan when they were ahead on the DLS par score.

Also read: T20 WC 2024, AFG beat BAN: 'Deserves Oscar'-Gulbadin Naib's fake injury to waste time sparks meme fest (WATCH)

The Afghan team benefited from India's victory over Australia by 24 runs the previous night.

It's fair to say that Australia has been eliminated from the tournament by both India and Afghanistan, the latter of which calls India its home base due to the challenging conditions in their own country.

Afghanistan's strategy has often relied on their opening pair both with bat and ball to secure victories, and Tuesday's match followed this winning formula.

During the match, Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran formed a critical 59-run partnership with the bat, while Fazalhaq Farooqi and Naveen made early breakthroughs with the ball.

Farooqi, known for his knack of taking early wickets, dismissed Tanzid Hasan for a duck in only the second over. Naveen followed up with a spectacular over, claiming the wickets of Bangladesh captain Najmul Hossain Shanto (5) and Shakib Al-Hasan (0).

Bangladesh found themselves struggling at 31/3 when rain interrupted play. Upon resumption, they accelerated to reach 46/3 by the sixth over.

Rashid Khan then introduced himself into the attack and demonstrated his unique bowling prowess. He took two wickets in consecutive overs, yet Bangladesh maintained their aggressive approach and stayed ahead on the DLS par score.

Nevertheless, the Afghan captain had other plans. In a stunning display, he picked up two wickets in consecutive deliveries, achieving a milestone of becoming the fastest bowler to reach 150 T20 wickets, surpassing New Zealand's Tim Southee.

As the rain poured yet again and Bangladesh lagged behind on the DLS par score, Afghan coach Jonathan Trott was visibly animated in the dugout, urging his players to slow down. All-rounder Gulbadin Naib also went down briefly, seemingly due to cramps. His swift recovery, however, raised eyebrows and prompted an on-air commentator to humorously dub him the "eighth wonder of the world."

Despite the interruptions, Das continued to frustrate Afghanistan, reaching his half-century with powerful shots over square leg. Meanwhile, wickets tumbled at the other end, leaving Das to battle alone until Naveen returned to dismiss Bangladesh's last two batsmen.

As the Afghan players celebrated emotionally, it marked the dawn of a new era for their team, which has faced setbacks in international cricket due to Australia's refusal to host matches, citing concerns over the Taliban's governance and the rights of women in Afghanistan.

Choosing to bat first, Afghanistan's batsmen encountered challenging conditions with the pitch providing significant turn and lateral movement.

Opening batsmen Gurbaz and Zadran focused on building their innings cautiously, mindful of preserving their wickets. However, Bangladesh broke through in the 11th over when Zadran, having scored 18 runs off 29 balls, tried to loft a delivery over long off but failed to connect well, resulting in his dismissal as Hossain claimed his first wicket.

Benefiting from the pitch conditions that supported seam and swing bowling, Bangladesh effectively slowed down Afghanistan's scoring rate. Rashid Khan's two sixes in the final over were crucial in guiding Afghanistan past the 100-run mark.

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