ABU DHABI - New Zealand beat Afghanistan in their final Super 12 match, joining Pakistan from Group 2 in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 semi-final.

New Zealand’s campaign in the tournament has been characterised by how disciplined, clinical and calm they have been. And it was another such performance, set up by the fast bowlers that sealed an eight-wicket victory in Abu Dhabi. The win took them to eight points, with four wins from five matches. It confirmed a top-two place in the group for them, along with Pakistan, as the two teams join England and Australia from the other group in the semi-finals. 

The result ended the semi-final hopes of India, who play their final match on Monday, as well as Afghanistan. For Afghanistan, Najibullah Zadran made a determined half-century in a crucial match, but found little support from his teammates as they were held to 124/8. The four New Zealand pace bowlers shared seven wickets among themselves, with Trent Boult the pick of the lot with 3/17. Devon Conway and Kane Williamson held off the Afghan spin attack to knock off the runs in 18.1 overs. The win was set up by the New Zealand bowlers, who have adapted well to the conditions across the venues in the Super 12s. 

Afghanistan were restricted to 124/8 batting first. The result hardly ever looked in doubt during the New Zealand chase with captain Kane Williamson smashing unbeaten 40 runs and Devon Conway unbeaten 36 runs putting up an unbeaten 68-run partnership for the third wicket. The Kiwis got over the line with 11 balls to spare. Spinners Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan were the only wicket takers for Afghanistan. Mujeeb got the breakthrough by dismissing Daryl Mitchell in the fourth over after which Rashid picked his 400th T20 wicket by sending back Martin Guptill in the ninth over. 

They reached the total mainly due to the efforts of Najibullah Zadran (73 off 48 balls), who stood out in a rather tepid display by the rest of his team-mates. Zadran struck six fours and three sixes during his innings. The Kiwi pace trio of Boult, Tim Southee (2/24) and Adam Milne (1/17) did not give anything away in the initial overs as the Afghan batters struggled to get going and fell in trying to force the pace of their innings. Ish Sodhi (1/13) and Jimmy Neesham (1/24) were the other New Zealand wicket-takers. Neesham conceded only two runs from the final over of the Afghanistan innings. 

SCORES IN BRIEF

NEW ZEALAND 125/2 in 18.1 overs (Kane Williamson 40*, Devon Conway 36*; Rashid Khan 1/27, Mujeeb Ur Rahman 1/31) beat AFGHANISTAN 124/8 in 20 overs (Najibullah Zadran 73; Trent Boult 3/17, Tim Southee 2/24) by 8 wickets.