T20 World Cup: Australia survive Afghan scare, keep hopes alive

Rashid Khan
Rashid Khan's cameo was not enough to take Afghanistan to an upset win. Photo: AFP/Brenton Edwards

Adelaide: Defending champions Australia survived a late Rashid Khan onslaught to eke out a four-run win over Afghanistan and keep their slim semifinal hopes alive in the T20 World Cup here on Friday.

By virtue of the win, Australia moved to the second spot in Group 1 with seven points from five games, same as New Zealand, who became the first team to qualify for the semifinals on account of a better net run rate.

Australia, however, failed to get past England's net run rate as the hosts needed to restrict Afghanistan below 106 after posting 168 /8.

That means if England beat Sri Lanka in Sydney in their final game on Saturday, they too will finish with seven points and will join New Zealand in the semifinal from Group 1 with a better net run rate.

Glenn Maxwell was the top-scorer for Australia as he hit a quickfire fifty but Afghanistan pulled things back nicely in the final five overs to limit the defending champions to a decent total.

Maxwell made an unbeaten 32-ball 54 that included six boundaries and two hits over the fence after Afghanistan invited Australia to bat.

In response, Afghanistan nearly pulled off a sensational win, riding on Rashid's (48 not out off 23 balls) pyrotechnics but eventually fell short.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz got Afghanistan's chase off to a decent start with a 17-ball 30 during which he struck two boundaries and as many sixes but Australia forged their way back, removing both the openers.

Gulbadin Naib (39) and Ibrahim Zadran (26), however, were in no mood to give up without a fight and stitched 59 runs off 46 balls for the second wicket.

Both Naib and Zadran used the inside out shots over the infield to good effect and kept the Afghans in the hunt.

It took a brilliant piece of work from Maxwell from the outfield to break the stand. Maxwell came up with a direct hit from deep mid-wicket to cut short Naib's innings and then in the very next ball Zadran top-edged Adam Zampa to Marsh.

Zampa inflicted another missed timed shot to dismiss Najibullah Zadran as Afghanistan lost the plot in the 14th over.

Towards the end, Rashid played some lusty blows and together with Darwish Rasooli shared quick 45 runs off 28 balls to reduce the equation to 22 of the last over.

Rashid managed to hit Marcus Stonis for two fours and one six in the final over but it was not enough.

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