After four weeks of relentless cricket, T20 World Cup 2021 zeroed in on its final four contestants on Sunday. England, Australia, Pakistan and New Zealand will now lock horns in the semi-finals to decide who takes home the coveted trophy.
New Zealand crossed their last hurdle in the league stage by besting Afghanistan by eight wickets in today's first match. The result knocked both Mohammed Nabi's team and Virat Kohli-led India out of the tournament. Pakistan then became the only team to win all of their Super 12 matches by trouncing Scotland by 72 runs.
Despite Najibullah Zadran's 74, Afghanistan fell about 30 runs short of a par total, ultimately managing 124-8. New Zealand's pace duo of Trent Boult (3/17) and Tim Southee (2/24) were equally brilliant with the new ball and at the death. With support from others, they never let the aggressive Afghan batters off the leash.
Nabi was defensive with his bowling changes in the second innings. Only Rashid Khan (1/27) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman (1/31) were successful as the New Zealand batters clinically went about building the chase unhurried. Kane Williamson and Devon Conway's 68-run partnership for the third wicket was enough to seal a massive win.
As a result, New Zealand momentarily went past Pakistan to become the top-ranked side in the T20 World Cup Super 12 Group 2 points table with four wins out of five games and a net run rate of +1.162. But the Men in Green, the only team to have defeated the Kiwis so far, took their position back within hours.
On the backs of Babar Azam's responsible 66 (47) and veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik's breathtaking 18-ball 54, Pakistan scored 189-4 in the first essay. The Scotland bowlers did well to keep the top-order in control earlier in the innings, but lost the plot when put under pressure by Azam, Malik and Mohammed Hafeez.
The Scottish batting lineup was never a match for the verve of the Pakistani bowling attack. Only Richie Berrington put up a fight with his unbeaten 37-ball 54 as no other batter even crossed 17 and the team could only rack up 117-6 in 20 overs. Shadab Khan stepped up with a spell of 2/14 underpinned by Shaheen Afridi's 1/24 and Haris Rauf's 1/27.
The win took Pakistan's net run rate (NRR) to +1.583, a healthy lead over Williamson's team. Only an unlikely colossal win from Namibia against India tomorrow can change the points table now as none of the two can go past other teams in points in the T20 World Cup Super 12 Group 2 table.
T20 World Cup 2021 Super 12 Group 1 updated points table
The matches for the T20 World Cup's Group 1 concluded on Saturday. South Africa's inspiring 10-run win over England brought them to a three-way tie on points in the table. But it couldn't help them edge past Australia in the NRR to take one of the two available semi-final spots in the T20 World Cup.
The Aussies' NRR got a decisive boost earlier in the day when they trounced West Indies by eight wickets. Thus the two teams proceeding to the semis from Group 1 include the reigning 50-over World Cup champions and a side who have never won a T20 World Cup, giving more context to an already riveting tournament.
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