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Afghanistan players wear a dejected look after losing their World Cup match against Australia. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Afghanistan have been the most cherished team of this Cricket World Cup. With stunning victories over defending champions England and former champions Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the Asian minnows have transformed themselves into giant-killers overnight.

The confidence derived from every win during the league stage made them put five-time champions Australia on the mat. They were clinical for most part of the game on Tuesday after scoring 291 for seven in 50 overs. A very impressive show with the bat, led by Ibrahim Zadran, who scored his maiden World Cup century apart from becoming the first Afghan player to reach the milestone in the showpiece, was followed by a strong bowling performance from Naveen ul Haq, Azmatullah Omarzai and Rashid Khan taking two wickets each.

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With Australia down at 91 for seven, the Afghans had strengthened their chances of booking a place in their last four stage. A big win would have also taken their net-run rate way higher. That was not to be as Glenn Maxwell’s stunning double century took Australia into the semi-finals, leaving Afghans high and dry.

Afghanistan's chance against South Africa

With just one match to go and three teams — New Zealand, Pakistan and Afghanistan — vying for the lone spot, Gulf News takes a look at various scenarios that will take Afghanistan into the knock-outs. With a low run-rate among the three, Afghanistan will have to defeat South Africa in the first place and then hope that both New Zealand and Pakistan lose their matches.

After such a wonderful run in this World Cup, Afghanistan will be fancying their chances against the Proteas, who had shown their vulnerability while chasing the targets. In three chases so far, South Africa have lost two and narrowly squeezed past Pakistan in the other.

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Afghanistan opener Ibrahim Zadran plays an upper cut during his unbeaten century against Australia on Tuesday. Image Credit: Source: ACB Twitter

Rain threat to New Zealand game

With rain threat looming large, New Zealand must be fretting about their fortunes in the World Cup after losing their previous match by Duckworth-Lewis method to Pakistan. A washout will give New Zealand one point, which means a win for Pakistan and Afghanistan will take them past the Black Caps. But the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru has one of the best drainage systems in the country and the match could resume at a short notice even after heavy rains. That must be a comforting factor for New Zealand.

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In the final analysis, if New Zealand and Pakistan lose, then Afghanistan will have to just beat South Africa. However, if Pakistan and New Zealand win and maintain their current net run rate, then Afghanistan’s campaign is as good as over. According to the BCCI statistician Mohandas Menon, the following is the calculation:

Batting first:

Afghanistan need to make 350, then restrict South Africa to 57 for their current net run rate to go ahead of New Zealand’s NRR of 0.398

When batting second:

They can’t make it.