Afghanistan Targets Victory Over Struggling Bangladesh to Reach T20 Semifinals

KINGSTOWN: The sprightly Afghanistan team will simply need to defeat Bangladesh in their last Super Eights match to qualify for the T20 World Cup semifinals here, following India’s 24-run win over Australia.

With India sealing the top spot on way to the semifinals, the other three teams can qualify as the second side from Group 1 since Afghanistan, Australia and Bangladesh have two points each.

The equation is simple for Rashid Khan’s Afghanistan, who have a negative net run rate of -0.650. The Afghans will topple Australia from the second place in Group 1 if they beat Bangladesh and advance to the final four, irrespective of what their NRR is, since they will end up with four points.

Even a no-result finish in the contest here would see Afghanistan qualifying for the semifinals, for they would get one point which would take their tally to three.

At the same time, Bangladesh, who lost both their matches in the Super Eights stage, hold the fate of former champions Australia in their hands.

A win by 62 or more runs for Bangladesh, batting first, or getting over the line quickly — number of overs to do that would be determined by the target Afghanistan set — would propel the Najmul Hosain Shanto-led side into the semifinals.

But a victory for Bangladesh by any lesser margin would see Australia, who have a NRR of -0.331, make it to the last four as Afghanistan would not be able to improve their NRR.

Earlier, Afghanistan had augmented their chances of making their first-ever World Cup semifinal when they downed the mighty Australians on Saturday.

Afghanistan will be high on confidence having exacted revenge from Australia for their ODI World Cup loss last year in Mumbai.

The Afghans would fancy their chances against a down-and-out Bangladesh, who seemed happy just to progress to the Super Eights.

That Afghanistan have the skills and mindset to excel in the format is not up for debate. They have proved that they are no longer a side reliant on just their bowling unit to eke out victories.

Openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz, the leading run-getter, and Ibrahim Zadran have set the tournament ablaze with their sensational hitting.

Additionally, the Afghans are enjoying the conditions that the Caribbean pitches are offering. Having a plethora of quality all-rounders has only helped their cause.

They will take on Bangladesh at the same venue where they defeated Australia and the spin-friendly conditions will aide them.

Bangladesh, on the other hand, have already given up. Although they do have a minuscule chance of progressing to the semifinals, back-to-back defeats against Australia and India have deflated their confidence.

“To be honest, I don’t think we have a chance to play the semi-finals anymore after this loss (against India),” senior all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan said on Saturday.

Bangladesh have struggled with their batting throughout the tournament. The lack of power-hitters has also hurt them. The underwhelming performance of opener Litton Das and Tanzid Khan has also compounded their woes.

However, Towid Hridoy and leg-spinner Rishad Hossain have impressed with their performance.The game against Afghanistan is an opportunity for them to end their campaign on a high.

“But having said that, the next game will be an opportunity for us to get a win under our belt before we finish up this tournament,” Shakib said.

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“We’d love to finish this tournament on a high. We have to face Afghanistan which is a very good side. So, we have to be at our best to be able to win against them,” he added.

Teams (From):

Afghanistan: Rashid Khan (c), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Azmatullah Omarzai, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Ishaq, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Karim Janat, Nangyal Kharoti,Hazratullah Zazai , Noor Ahmad, Naveen-ul-Haq, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Fareed Ahmad Malik.

Bangladesh: Tanzid Hasan, Litton Das, Najmul Hossain Shanto (c), Shakib Al Hasan, Towhid Hridoy, Mahmudullah, Mahedi Hasan, Rishad Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Tanzim Hasan Sakib, Mustafizur Rahman, Jaker Ali, Tanvir Islam, Shoriful Islam, Soumya Sarkar.

Match starts 6:00 am IST.

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