T20 World Cup: Dominant Afghanistan thrash Namibia in Abu Dhabi for second win

ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, Abu Dhabi
Afghanistan 160-5 (20 overs): Shahzad 45 (33), Zazai 33 (27); Loftie-Eaton 2-21
Namibia 98-9 (20 overs): Wiese 26 (30); Hassan 3-9, Naveen 3-26
Afghanistan won by 62 runs

A dominant display from Afghanistan saw them crush Namibia by 62 runs in the Men’s T20 World Cup to boost their semi-final hopes.

Chasing 161 after Afghanistan’s imposing effort, Namibia limped to 98-9 from 20 overs.

Opener Craig Williams’ departure in the first over set the tone for the rest of the innings as Namibia failed to gain any momentum.

Hamid Hassan, playing his first international T20 since 2016, took a brilliant 3-9 and fellow seamer Naveen-ul-Haq also shone with 3-26.

Afghanistan, bouncing back from their defeat by Pakistan, continued to buck the trend of the tournament so far by choosing to bat first and back their bowlers to defend a score.

Hard-hitting openers Hazratullah Zazai and Mohammad Shahzad added 53 for the first wicket before captain Mohammad Nabi (32 not out from 17) and Asghar Afghan (31 from 23), playing his last international match, boosted their total with some useful lower-order runs.

The victory keeps Afghanistan second in the table behind Pakistan, but having played more games than India and New Zealand, who meet at 14:00 GMT.

Afghanistan boost semi-final chances

Despite Afghanistan’s remarkable rise in international T20 cricket, not many would have backed them to make it out of a group that included India, Pakistan and New Zealand.

Having perhaps predictably thrashed Scotland, they came agonisingly close to victory against Pakistan and having now comfortably beaten Namibia they have two wins and the benefit of a very healthy net run-rate.

Their openers attacked from the first ball and while their approach of ‘six or nothing’ did contribute to their downfall against Pakistan, they have a capable middle and lower order to dig them out of trouble if necessary.

But their bowling is their trump card. Against Namibia, they looked formidable even without Mujeeb ur Rahman, who was not fully fit to play, while Rashid Khan had a quiet day, taking just one wicket.

Naveen and Hassan combined relentless accuracy with well-executed variations to bamboozle Namibia’s batters – even more remarkable given Hassan has not played an international T20 for almost five years.

There is still a long way to go, but it would not be completely out of the question for them to cause an upset against India or New Zealand given how they are playing.

Emotional Asghar retires mid-tournament

Afghanistan players make a tunnel from their bats for Afghan Asghar
Former captain Asghar Afghan received an emotional guard of honour from his team-mates after his dismissal for 31

It was an emotional match for former Afghanistan captain Asghar, who announced on Saturday that he would be retiring after this fixture.

His aggressive knock helped his side to their defendable total.

But the emotion came after his dismissal when his own team-mates formed a tunnel with their bats as he left the field.

Asghar gave an emotional interview after Afghanistan’s batting innings, wiping tears from his eyes as he spoke and was carried from the field on the shoulders of his team-mates at the end.

“I am retiring because I want to give the youngsters a chance. As a team we are playing very good cricket and it is a good opportunity for them to come forward,” he said.

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