New Zealand's Trent Boult celebrates after taking the wicket of Afghanistan's Hazratullah Zazai
New Zealand win by 8 wickets and book a spot in semi-finals Image Credit: AFP

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson took the Kiwis into the semi-finals. Follow the action as it happened below...

Scores here


Williamson and Boult once again live up to the expectations

New Zealand scored a clinical eight-wicket win over Afghanistan to book their rightful place in the ICC Twenty20 World Cup at the Shaikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Kane Williamson proved the central figure in the crucial encounter by scoring an unbeaten 40 after marshalling the troops earlier to restrict Afghanistan to a paltry 124/8 in 20 overs. Barring a brief spell of few overs, after the exit of Martin Guptill, New Zealand were in total control of the game. Giving him company was Devon Conway, who was unbeaten on 36 after surviving some close calls.
The victory knocked Afghanistan and India out of the competition, leaving tomorrow’s final group game between India and Namibia only as an academic interest.
Things could have been a little different had bowler Hamid or wicketkeeper spotted the faintest of edges off Conway as two quick wickets would have put the New Zealand under a bit more pressure. However, skipper Williamson is not the one to give in easily on these big occasions and ensured he stayed till the end to finish the game in New Zealand’s favour.
When Afghanistan skipper Mohammad Nabi won the toss and elected to bat first, pacers Trent Boult (3 for 17) and Tim Southee (2 for 24) pushed them on to the backfoot straightway, bowling short-pitched deliveries and keeping the batters guessing on a good batting wicket. That made the Afghan batters more uncomfortable and, with lack of runs, they became even more edgy, which resulted in quick wickets.
Najibullah Zadran waged a lone battle for Afghanistan, scoring more than half of the team runs. The left-hander, coming in at a difficult time when his team was 19 for three, played a gem of an innings where he mixed caution with aggression, scoring 73 while maintaining a strike rate of 150-plus.
The utility team, bereft of superstars, once again outwitted their opponents with clever line and length and disciplined batting to wow the cricketing fans across the world.

New Zealand win by eight wickets to book a place in the semi-finals.

The scores are level now. One more run will knock Afghanistan and India out of the Twenty20 World Cup.

It is now just a formality for New Zealand, who need 7 runs from 18 balls too book their place in the semi-finals. Williamson is batting on 36 and Conway 34.

Conway, living dangerously, shifts gear to score quick runs and guide New Zealand past the 100-run mark. The Black Caps need another 24 runs in 5 overs.

Nabi is going for the attack. After bringing the New Zealand batters under pressure by not giving easy runs in the last three overs, he has brought in a forward short leg off Rashid Khan, but the move did not yield the desired results. After 12, New Zealand are 70/2, it should have been three down. Afghanistan missed a wicket in the previous over. Hamid beat Conway all and square, but replays suggest that a faint edge was missed by both the keeper and the bowler. Lucky escape for Conway.

Afghanistan bowlers have pulled back New Zealand in the last couple of overs. Guptill’s wicket has also made them adopt a more cautious approach. At halfway stage, New Zealand are 61/2, needing another 64 in the last 10 overs. Williamson’s wicket is crucial for both teams.

A rare rush of blood costs Guptill his wicket. The New Zealand opener went for the slog-sweep only to miss the line and was out bowled to become Rashid Khan’s 400th wicket in Twenty20. After 9 overs, Black Caps are 58/2 with Williamson on 11 and Conway 1.

Afghanistan spinners are not getting enough assistance from the wicket. Guptill and Williamson are also making their task difficult with commonsense approach, showing no hurry and getting ones and twos. After 8 overs, New Zealand are 53/1.

Guptill continues his impressive run of form to hit boundaries with ease and races to 24. New Zealand are marching towards the target at 45/1 at the end of powerplay 6 overs. Afghanistan skipper Mohammad Nabi falls back on his ace bowler Rashid Khan.

Mujeeb strikes. The mystery spinner induces an edge of Daryl Mitchell and wicketkeeper Shahzad completes a sharp catch to reduce New Zealand to 26/1 in 3.1 overs.

New Zealand get off to an easy start, no pressure on the openers. Martin Guptill and Daryl Mitchell have the luxury to just go for ones and twos, cutting down the risk to the minimum. After two overs, the Black Caps are 15/0.

Mid-match summary

New Zealand should sail through to the target. Zadran’s 73 gives Afghanistan total some respectablity. Veteran pacers Trent Boult and Tim Southee restricted Afghanistan to a paltry score in the virtual quarter-final at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
New Zealand have clearly come with a plan to trap Afghanistan and they executed it to perfection to set themselves a target of 125, which they should be able to achieve without much sweat.
Afghanistan must have thought of piling a big score and opted to bat first after winning the toss. But Kane Williamson and his bowlers hit the right lengths, pushing the Afghanistan batters on to the backfoot.
Barring Najibullah Zadran, none of the batters could come to terms with the bowling on a wicket that gives good opportunity for srokeplay. If not for Zadran’s 73 off 48 balls, Afghanistan total would have not even crossed 50 as the next highest scores is Gulbadin Naib 15, followed by skipper Mohammad Nabi 14.
Afghanistan have a very strong bowling line up and the return of Mujeeb Ur Rahman would have given them more teeth to the potent attack, but the score is too little to defend. New Zealand certainly have won the round one.

Rashid gets out to the last ball after four swing and miss to end the innings at 124/8 in 20 overs.

Rashid gets out to the last ball after four swing and miss to end the innings at 124/8 in 20 overs.

Twin strike by Boult in a space of three balls halts Afghanistan’s progress. Zadran becomes left-arm pacer’s 10th wicket in this World Cup. The left-hander went ahead with his shot off a slower one, but could not get the desired power. Neesham ran to his left and completed a good diving catch, pouncing inches from the ground. Zadran scored 73. Boult also got wicket No 11, when Janat flicked the ball straight to Sodhi at deep square leg. Afghanistan are 122/7 after 19 overs.

Something to cheer about for Southee, after coming under severe punishment by Afghanistan batters in the 18th over. The New Zealand pacer got the Afghanistan skipper Nabi, caught and bowled off the last ball of the over to reduce Afghanistan to 115/5. 

Boult bowls another tight over, not giving the batters any chance to free their arms. Afghanistan reach 100-run mark. After 17, overs Afghanistan are 101/4 with Najib batting on 57 and Nabi 13.

A well-compiled half-century by Najib. The left-hander has mixed caution and aggression to reach 50 off 33 balls. Afghanistan move to 91/4 in 15 overs, the crucial final five overs coming up..

A big over. Najib now opens up and targets Santner, who is having an off day. With the ball not spinning, the left-arm spinner bowls short of length and Najib latched on to hit to hit two sixes, one over the straight and the other over the midwicket. Afghanistan need lot more of these sixes. After this over, which cost 19 runs, Afghanistan move to 87/4 in 14 overs.

Time for consolidation. Skipper Nabi and Najib rotate the strike, playing ones and twos to take Afghanistan to 66/4 in 12 overs. Najib, Afghanistan’s leading scorer, needs to go till the end to give the Afghanistan bowlers something to defend.

Afghanistan's Gulbadin Naib is dismissed by New Zealand's Ish Sodhi
Afghanistan's Gulbadin Naib is dismissed by New Zealand's Ish Sodhi Image Credit: AP

Leg-spinner Sodhi breaks the budding partnership, dismissing Gulbadin Naib for 15. In trying to force the ball off the backfoot, the right-hander plays it on to his stumps. Afghanistan are 56/4 at the halfway stage. Afghanistan reach 50 with Najib shifting gears, hitting three fours in two overs. Nesham, who erred in line to pitch the ball up. The left-hand saw the opportunity and hit the ball straight over the bowler’s as the ball raced to the boundary, splitting the fielders. A classy shot. It is important that Najib stays for a long time for Afghanistan.

Najib ends a long wait for a boundary, hitting a rocket straight over Santner’s end for the first four in 3.4 overs. Afghanistan are 36/3 in 8 overs.

New Zealand bowlers have done their homework right. They are not giving anything on the front foot for the Afghanistan batters to hit through the line. Gulbadin,batting on 9, and Najib, 5, take Afghanistan to 28/3 in 7 overs. First hint of spin as Mitchell Santner replaces Southee from the far end.

Williamson, the shrewd captain that he is, knows that Afghanistan batters are good players of spin and only operates his pacers. Southee, who replaced Boult, strikes immediately, catching Gurbaz plumb in front on the crease. Afghanistan are 19/3 after 5.1 overs with Najib Zadran coming in to stem the rot.

New Zealand's Trent Boult celebrates after taking the wicket of Afghanistan's Hazratullah Zazai
New Zealand's Trent Boult celebrates after taking the wicket of Afghanistan's Hazratullah Zazai Image Credit: AFP

Afghanistan in trouble after losing the second wicket, bringing the millions of Indian fans on the edge. Boult dismisses the dangerous Zazai, caught by Santner for 2. The left-hander closed the bat too early to get a single off his legs only to find the leading edge. Santner doesn’t miss these easy offerings. New Zealand are moving in for the kill, bringing the slip and getting all the fielders inside to save the single. Gulbadin Naib completes the over with a four over the wicketkeeper’s head. Afghanistan are 16/1 after 4.

Adam Milne strikes the first blow for New Zealand dismissing Afghanistan opener Shahzad
Adam Milne strikes the first blow for New Zealand dismissing Afghanistan opener Shahzad Image Credit: AFP

Adam Milne strikes the first blow for New Zealand, dismissing opener Shahzad, caught behind by wicketkeeper Devon Conway, who juggles before pouncing on the difficult chance and complete a brilliant catch. Rahmanullah Gurbaz starts with a boundary to take Afghanistan to 12/1 after three overs.

Trent Boult and Kane Williamson are meeting fire with fire. They begin with an attacking field against Shahzad, including a slip. Two fielders on the square leg boundary suggest that the line is likely to be short/short of length, which also cuts Shahzad’s favourite hitting area. Shahzad is unperturbed by any of these and plays his own game. One run comes of the over and Afghanistan are 7/0 after two.

Mohammad Shahzad starts the way he plays the best. Hitting Tim Southee straight over the infield for a four. The wicket has less green on it, however it comes on nicely to the bat and should allow the batters the freedom to play their shots without any hesitation. Afghanistan are 6/0 after one over.

Mujib Ur Rahman comes in place of Sharafuddin for Afghanistan. New Zealand name unchanged side.

Mohammad Nabi has won the toss. Afghanistan will bat first against New Zealand.


Kane Williamson has created magic by making New Zealand a huge force to reckon with in world cricket. The affable skipper has succeeded in taking the Black Caps to final of the 50-over World Cup, where they lost narrowly to England, maiden Test Championship title defeating India in the last couple of years. He has achieved all this with a group of journeymen who are lethal as cohesive unit.

Today he is embarking on another huge assignment in the Twenty20 format. In a virtual quarter-final, New Zealand take on Afghanistan in a bid to move into the knockout stage of the Twenty20 World Cup and give themselves a chance to complete the trophy cabinet.

The Afghans, on the other hand, are too familiar with these conditions after playing many of their home games in the UAE and mystery spinners are ideally suited to keep the New Zealand batters in check. However, Williamson is aware of these spinners after playing with them in Sunrisers Hyderabad for a few years now. Though bowling is their main strength, the fearless nature of Afghanistan batters make them extremely dangerous.

To make early inroads into the Afghanistan batting, Williamson will be heavily reliant on Trent Boult, Tim Southee and the Ludhiana-born Ish Sodhi to break millions of Indian hearts.

A New Zealand win will take them to the semi-finals, however, many Indian fans must praying for an Afghanistan win as it would give the Men in Blue a chance to sneak into the next stage on better net run rate.

When Williamson walks in to the middle along with his Sunrisers Hyderabad teammate Mohammad Nabi millions of fans across the globe will be having their eyes fixed on the Shaikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi and wait for the umpires to call play…