Gulbadin keeps semifinal hopes alive as Afghanistan defeat Australia

St Vincent, June 23 (UNI) In a monumental moment for Afghanistan cricket, they secured a thrilling victory over the mighty Team Australia in a must-win match of the T20 World Cup Super Eight stage on Sunday IST. This victory keeps Afghanistan’s hopes alive in the tournament and is a testament to their growing prowess in international cricket.

Afghanistan had come close to defeating Australia ODI World Cup last year in Mumbai but were thwarted by Glenn Maxwell’s heroics.

Today, Maxwell once again threatened to dash Afghan hopes, but Gulbadin Naib delivered a match-winning performance with the ball, claiming 4 wickets for just 20 runs. His exceptional spell sealed a historic win for Afghanistan, eliciting emotional celebrations both on the field and in the stands.

The foundation for Afghanistan’s competitive total of 148-6 was laid by a resilient opening partnership between Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran. The duo expertly navigated a challenging pitch to put on 118 runs for the first wicket. Gurbaz top-scored with 60 off 49 balls, including four boundaries and four sixes, while Zadran added 51 off 48 balls with six boundaries. Their stand marked their third century partnership of the tournament and set the stage for a solid total.

Australia’s bowling attack, led by Pat Cummins, momentarily wrested control back with Cummins claiming his second hat-trick in consecutive matches. He first struck by dismissing Rashid Khan at the end of the 18th over, followed by the wickets of Karim Janat and Gulbadin Naib at the start of the final over.

Marcus Stoinis and Adam Zampa also contributed key wickets during Afghanistan’s late-innings collapse, where they lost four wickets for just eight runs.

Despite these setbacks, Afghanistan’s bowlers responded magnificently. Naveen-ul-Haq provided an excellent start in the powerplay, and although Maxwell looked dangerous once again, Naib’s strategic use of slower balls proved to be the decisive factor. His 4/20 performance is now recorded as one of the best bowling figures against Australia in T20 World Cups, second only to Ravichandran Ashwin’s 4/11 in 2014.

This victory marks Australia’s first loss to Afghanistan in six international matches. Notably, all four matches at this venue during the current World Cup have been won by the team batting first.

After being put in to bat by Australian skipper Mitchell Marsh, Afghanistan capitalized on some early momentum through their openers Gurbaz and Zadran. However, their innings saw a dramatic downturn after Stoinis broke their partnership and Zampa applied pressure with two crucial wickets. Cummins’ hat-trick further dented Afghanistan’s progress, but their total of 148-6 proved to be challenging on a pitch that suited their bowling attack.

Australia now faces India in their final Super Eight match on Monday, needing a win to secure their place in the semi-finals. Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s victory today has not only boosted their chances but also invigorated their supporters with a historic and unforgettable performance.

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