Australia defeated Afghanistan by four runs in a crunch match that will keep their semifinal hopes alive. But they will crash out, if England beat Sri Lanka on Sunday. A Sri Lanka win will give Australia a last-four slot. In today's game Australia scored 168/8 and restricted Afghanistan to 164/7, but they were unable to lift their net run rate. Here's how it happened.
20 overs: Australia sneak to victory
Australia sneak to a four-run win over Afghanistan. Rashid Khan’s stunning counter-attack with an unbeaten 48 off 23 balls go in vain.
Afghanistan require 21 off 6 balls
Match is on the edge. Afghanistan need 21 to win off the last over. Rashid is on 32 off 17.
Rashid Khan leads Afghan charge
Rashid Khan is standing between a win and a loss for Australia. The all-rounder is now leading the charge and has taken Afghanistan close to the target with two sixes in Richardson’s final over: his four overs costing 48 runs with one wicket. Afghanistan need 33 from 12 balls.
Afghanistan in deep trouble
Afghanistan are in deep trouble after losing four wickets in nine balls for the addition of just seven runs. Though Afghanistan have gone past the threshold of 106, Australia will not be able to improve their net run rate over England. Still, the prospect of getting the two points look brighter now as Afghanistan, after 15 overs, need another 63 from 30 balls.
Mini collapse gives Australia hope
Afghanistan had put Australia under pressure by playing positively and running aggressively. But a brilliant direct hit from long on by Glenn Maxwell ended a dangerous 44-run partnership, catching Gulabdin Naib short of crease. That triggered a mini collapse, as the Afghans lost Ibrahim Zadran and Najibullah Zadran also in the same Adam Zampa over. Three wickets in an over must have given hope to Australia. After 14 overs, Afghanistan are 101/5.
10 overs: Pressure mounts on Australia
The loss of two wickets have slowed Afghanistan’s progress. Ibrahim Zadran is playing the sheet-anchor role while Gulbadin Naib is the aggressor, scoring 24 in 15 balls. It is keeping Afghanistan in the chase, needing 67 in 60 balls. After 10 overs, Afghanistan are 72 for two. Australia were 83/3 at the same stage.
6 overs: Afghanistan cruise to 47/2
Afghanistan are cruising and it looks difficult to restrict Afghanistan under 106. Afghan opener Rahmaullah Gurbaz was finding his range before he skied for a second time in Richardson’s first over to be out for 30 off 17 balls. After six overs, Afghanistan are 47/2. Australia were 54/3 at the same stage.
20 overs: Afghanistan pacers restrict Australia to sub-par score
Afghanistan bowlers prevented the Australian batters from racking up a huge score. They were restricted to 168/8 in 20 overs, as Naveen Ul Haq and Fazalhaq Farooqi conceded two sixes and three fours in the final five overs while getting four wickets. Maxwell, who was not allowed to play freely, struck a half-century (50 off 29 balls) as 33 came off 17 balls. Australia’s low score allowed New Zealand to enter the semi-finals on a superior net run rate. Australia must restrict Afghanistan to under 106 to go past England’s net run rate.
Stoinis departs, Maxwell looking dangerous
Stoinis and Maxwell are dealing in four and sixes. They put on 53 runs in 29 balls. Just when the Australians were threatening to take the match away, Rashid Khan got rid of Stoinis. Maxwell is looking more dangerous and his wicket will be the key for Afghanistan, after scoring 33 off just 17 balls. After 16 overs, Australia are 143/5.
15 overs: Maxwell and Stoinis step up the scoring
Runs are flowing for Australia. Despite losing the dangerous Marsh after the break, Australia are relentlessly attacking the Afghanistan bowlers to give themselves a good score. Maxwell is living dangerously and Australia needed that positive approach. Maxwell and Stoinis have stepped up the scoring. Australia are 133/4 in 15 overs. With over 10 runs coming every over, Australia must fancy 190 or 200.
10 overs: Australia rebuild their innings
Things have quietened after the powerplay overs. Both Marsh and Stoinis are not taking too many chances, especially against Rashid Khan. It could have been worse for Australia had Najibullah held on to the catch at point. Defending champions Australia, who have raised the scoring tempo, are 83/3 at halfway mark, with Marsh on 44.
6 overs: Australia slide to 54/3
The loss of David Warner, who was scoring briskly, has opened the door for Afghanistan as Steve Smith, who is playing in his first World Cup match, goes early for 4, which gave two wickets in one over for Naveen Ul Haq. Australia, who had lost opener Cameron Green earlier, are in trouble and Mitch Marsh, who played a big role in the 2021 campaign, will have to play a big role. After 6 overs, Australia are 54/3.
Australia make 3 changes; Afghanistan opt to bowl
In the absence of injured Aaron Finch, Matthew Wade leads the Australians in the crucial final Group 1 match against Afghanistan. Australia have made three changes to the squad. Injured Finch and Tim David are replaced by Steve Smith and Cameroon Green while Mitchell Starc is replaced by Kane Richardson.
Skipper Mohammad Nabi won the toss and elected to field. Rashid Khan, who had a niggle, has recovered and will be keen to play at the home ground of his BBL team Adelaide Strikers.
Australia: David Warner, Cameron Green, Mitch Marsh, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade (captain/wk), Pat Cummins, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood.
Afghanistan: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Usman Ghani, Ibrahim Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Darwish Rasooli, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi (captain), Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Naveen-ul-Haq, Fazal Farooqi.
Preview: Australia should win big to lift run rate
Dubai: Australia face a tricky test against Afghanistan, the game which they have to win handsomely to hope for a spot in the semifinals Even if they win, England’s result against Sri Lanka on Saturday will decide Australia’s fate, and the net run rate could come into play.
The Adelaide surface, which assists spinners, should boost Afghanistan. That could spell trouble for Australia’s batting, which is not firing on all cylinders. The Aussies generally do will under pressure, and they will take heart from the fact that Afghanistan have not played well in this World Cup.