Afghans in semis, eliminate Kiwis from U-19 World Cup

U19KABUL: Afghanistan eliminated New Zealand from the ICC U-19 World Cup, notching up a massive 202-run triumph over the highly-fancied hosts at the Hagley Oval on Thursday.

By virtue of the emphatic win, the fast-rising Afghans have stormed into the semifinal of the mega event for the first time, a spokesman for the Afghanistan Cricket Board said.

Farid Hotak told Pajhwok Afghan News the national side, opting to bat first, got off to a flying start, as Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran produced a superb 117-run opening stand.

Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran smashed 69 and 68 respectively before their partnership was broken by Sandeep Patel. Then Bahir Shah, a 17-year-old swashbuckler from Kunar province, hit a magnificent 67.

It was Azmatullah Omarzai who literally sent the Kiwis on a leather hunt. In a class of his own, he raced to his fifty off 19 balls only. Omarzai blasted 66 off 23 balls, hitting three fours and seven sixes.

As the top-order batsmen audaciously pulverised the opposition’s bowling attack, Afghanistan posted a mammoth total of 309 for the loss of six wickets.

Unbeaten in all group matches, the hosts slumped to 20 for 4 and could not recover from the early shocks. Off-spinner Mujeeb Zadran and leg-spinner Qais Ahmed, bagging four wickets each, restricted to 107.

They powered Afghanistan to a 202-run victory, Hotak said, adding it was the worst-ever result for New Zealand in the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup.

Katene Clarke (38) and Dale Phillips (31) exhibited a measure of resistance but that was not enough to keep the Kiwis flying. As they bowed out for 107, Afghanistan cruised in style into the semifinal with Australia. The semifinal will be played at the same venue on Monday.

By S. Mubasher Ali Shah

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