Spirited Afghans clip Kiwi wings, secure 84-run upset win in T20 World Cup

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Georgetown (Guyana), Jun 8 (PTI) A determined Afghanistan rode on splendid spells from their skipper Rashid Khan and left-arm pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi to stun an under-prepared New Zealand by 84 runs and make a strong case for a Super Eight berth in the T20 World Cup here.

Chasing a tricky 160 at the Providence Stadium here, 2021 runners-up New Zealand were shot out for a lowly 75 in an innings that lasted a mere 15.2 overs with only Glenn Phillips (18) and Matt Henry (12) managing double-digit scores.

The decision to bowl after winning the toss backfired on the Black Caps as the Afghans relied on openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz's 56-ball 84 and Ibrahim Zadran's 44 off 41 to post a reasonably good total of 159/6 in the low-scoring tournament.

Gurbaz was expectedly adjudged player of the match for his knock.

The triumph was a reminder of Afghanistan's first big upset win in 2016 when they defeated West Indies by six runs in Nagpur after restricting the eventual winners to 117/8 in their defence of 123/7.

Farooqi, who snared five wickets for nine runs against Uganda, returned figures of 17/4 off his 3.2 overs, including the match-sealing dismissal.

Rashid was also lethal as he collected the prized scalp of Kane Williamson (9 off 13) with his first ball. He finished overall figures of 17/4 off his four overs.

It took Afghanistan to four points from two matches, having earlier beaten Uganda by 125 runs.

The West Indies and Uganda occupy the next two spots, while Papua New Guinea and New Zealand are the last two teams whi haven't opened their accounts.

Afghanistan next face PNG on Friday, while NZ will be up against the co-hosts West Indies on Thursday.

"One of the greatest performances from us in T20I cricket against a big team," said Afghan skipper Rashid Khan terming it a "great team effort." "The way Ibrahim and Gurbaz started again... The wicket was not easy. They did not throw away their wickets.

"Great win for Afghanistan and it is a privilege to be leading this side and winning against NZ." Williamson acknowledged that Afghans "outplayed them".

"To get a total like that on a fiddly surface, they kept wickets in hand and played it beautifully. Not good enough from us. Quick turnaround, we have to regroup quickly and onto the next challenge," Williamson said.

Farooqi triggered the New Zealand collapse with the devastating new ball spell.

He first cleaned up opener Finn Allen for a golden duck with his very first ball, a full delivery on middle stump that darted in late, knocking the leg stump out of the ground.

Farooqi followed it up with the wicket of the dangerous Devon Conway in his next over as the Kiwi wicketkeeper-batter chipped a catch to short extra cover.

He ended his dream spell of 3-0-17-3 taking the wicket of Daryl Mitchell who edged a back-of-a-length delivery that angled in to have New Zealand reeling at 30/3 inside five overs.

The skipper, who also took 4/17, then weaved his magic after the power-play further pegging New Zealand back when he struck off his first delivery, dismissing his counterpart Williamson for 9 with a Gulbadin Naib taking a smart catch at slip.

The NZ top four batting card at that moment read a sorry 0, 8, 9, 5 by Allen, Conway, Williamson and Mitchell in that order.

Rashid cleaned up Mark Chapman (4) with a delivery that kept a little low and crashed into the stumps. Half the Kiwi side was back in the dugout for 43 in nine overs.

He followed it up with the wicket of Michael Bracewell in the next delivery trapping the batter LBW.

In the next over, Nabi broke the resistance of Phillips for a run-a-ball 18 as for the first time NZ lost seven wickets in the first seven overs of a T20 World Cup match.

Earlier, opting to field first under overcast conditions, New Zealand found themselves on the back-foot as Afghanistan's openers, buoyed by fielding lapses, capitalised on every opportunity.

Despite early missed chances -- a stumping and a fumbled run-out from wicketkeeper Devon Conway and a dropped catch at deep square leg -- Gurbaz and Zadran constructed a solid foundation of 103 runs from 14.3 overs.

Zadran was dropped on 15 off the bowling of Henry when Finn Allen grassed it at backward square leg in the fifth over.

In the next over, New Zealand's fielders were left ruing a golden opportunity as Gurbaz, displaying his trademark agility, narrowly escaped a potential run-out after Conway failed to gather as Afghanistan raced to 44 for no loss inside the power-play.

Afghanistan got to the halfway mark of their innings at 55 for no loss before really starting to open up the shoulders as Gurbaz struck his successive fifty.

Zadran struck three boundaries on his way to a handy 44 off 41 balls, before Azmatullah Omarzai added a fast-twitched 22-run cameo from just 13 deliveries -- his dismissal finally saw the Kiwis take a catch in the field, through Ferguson. PTI TAP KHS PM PM PM