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Fantastic Farooqi seals Afghanistan's maiden Super Eight berth with rout of PNG

Tournament co-hosts West Indies have already entered the Super Eight from Group C with six points, which is the same as the Afghans.

Fantastic Farooqi seals Afghanistans maiden Super Eight berth with rout of PNG
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Naveen-ul-Haq (PTI)

TAROUBA: The pace combination of Fazalhaq Farooqi and Naveen-ul-Haq led Afghanistan's seven-wicket rout of Papua New Guinea here as the strife-torn country stormed into the T20 World Cup's Super Eight stage for the first time, knocking out group favourites New Zealand in the process.

Gulbadin Naib scored an unbeaten 49 as Afghanistan gunned down the target of 96 in 15.1 overs overcoming early jitters. Put in to bat, PNG were bundled out for 95 with Farooqi and Naveen ripping through the line-up.

The Afghans will face title favourites India in their first Super Eight clash on June 20 in Barbados.

The result also meant that New Zealand, the 2021 finalists, were knocked out of the ICC showpiece. The Kiwis find themselves at the bottom of the table with two defeats from as many matches.

Tournament co-hosts West Indies have already entered the Super Eight from Group C with six points, which is the same as the Afghans.

New Zealand will face Uganda and PNG in their remaining two matches, which will now be of mere academic interest.

On Thursday, Farooqi took two wickets in two balls in his second over and finished with 3/16 from his four overs after Rashid Khan opted to bowl.

He now has tournament figures of 11.2-0-42-12 to lead the bowling chart.

His pace bowling partner Naveen provided the perfect assistance, returning with a miserly 2.5-0-4-2 as PNG were bowled out in 19.5 overs. Semo Kamea was run out in the penultimate delivery of their innings.

It would have been much worse for PNG had Afghanistan not leaked 25 runs in extras, and 13 of them wides.

This was yet another superlative display by the Afghanistan bowlers who are yet to concede 100 runs in this tournament -- Uganada (58; 16 overs), New Zealand (75, 15.2 overs).

"Feeling great to qualify for the next round. First time for Afghanistan being in Super Eight in T20Is. The boys have done well, adjusting to the conditions very quickly and that is something very pleasing for me," said skipper Rashid Khan.

Congratulating the team, Farooqi said: "I feel proud. Before the warm-up match, I was in the IPL. I did not get any chances there unfortunately. I played just one warm-up game.

However, Afghanistan stuttered in their small chase as both their in-form openers -- Rahmanullah Gurbaz (11) and Ibrahim Zadran (0) -- were dismissed by the gritty PNG new-ball bowlers Alei Nao and Kamea inside three overs.

But Gulbadin Naib ensured that there was no further disruption as he returned to form and anchored the chase with his 36-ball 49 not out.

Naib took his time before coming on his own, hitting four fours and two sixes.

PNG kept chipping away with the wickets as Norman Vanua got rid of Azmutullah Omarzai (13, 18 balls) against the run of play, but Mohammed Nabi stayed calm and provided assistance to Naib who sealed it with a six over Chad Soper's head.

But PNG started positively and showed intent while running between the wickets before Assad Vala found himself out of his crease.

Farooqi affected the run out and he continued making impact with the ball in hand as well, picking up back-to-back wickets to commence his job of destruction.

Naveen let the ball do the talking in the powerplay, claiming a pair of wickets including the crucial scalp of Tony Ura (11 off 18).

Soper and Kipling Doriga went about rebuilding the total towards something defendable, but things went from bad to worse just before drinks.

The pair had a moment of miscommunication, leading to the second run-out of the innings and it wasn't to be the last either.

The inexperienced PNG have suffered six run outs in the tournament, the most by any team and only Doriga who went past 15.

PTI
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