Afghanistan underlined their growing status as the dark horses of the 2024 T20 World Cup with a seven-wicket victory over Papua New Guinea on Thursday to advance to the Super Eight phase of the competition and send New Zealand crashing out.
Fazalhaq Farooqi added another three victims to his tournament-leading wicket tally as PNG were bundled out for 95 off 19.5 overs batting first in the Group C match at the Brian Lara Stadium in Trinidad.
Afghanistan stumbled early in reply, losing both openers cheaply for the first time in the tournament but eventually reached the target for the loss of three wickets in the 16th over for a third win in a row.
Gulbadin Naib, dropped on nine by wicketkeeper Kiplin Doriga off medium-pacer Alei Nao, took his team to the target with an unbeaten 49 in an unbroken fourth-wicket partnership of 46 with Mohammad Nabi (16 not out). Afghanistan finished on 101-3 off 15.1 overs.
The result confirms Afghanistan’s place, together with hosts West Indies, in the next round while at the same time eliminating New Zealand, who still have two group matches to play.
Left-arm seamer Farooqi spearheaded another impressive Afghan bowling effort, taking two quick wickets after PNG captain Assad Vala inadvertently opened the door for his opponents when he was carelessly run out in the second over of the match.
Two more run outs followed and Farooqi returned in the 19th over to claim another scalp to finish with three for 16 before a fourth run out ended the innings.
“I just keep it simple and stay with my strengths,” said Farooqi after receiving the ‘Man of the Match’ award. “If conditions are helpful for me I’m going for wickets. We just want to keep on giving 100 percent in every match we play.”
He now has 12 wickets in the tournament, four more than the trio of South African pacer Anrich Nortje, fast bowler Alzarri Joseph of the West Indies and Australian leg-spinner Adam Zampa.
To their credit, the Papuans showed a willingness to fight after slipping to 50 for seven in the 13th over as Doriga, who topscored with 27, and Alei Nao (13) put on 38 for the eighth wicket before Farooqi, inevitably, separated them.
“They are a really good bowling unit and to give them four easy wickets (run outs), especially mine, which was a bit lazy, didn’t help,” said a remorseful Vala. “I’m really happy though with the way our bowlers have been going. Even though we haven’t put enough runs on the board to help them the execution of their skills and their planning has been outstanding.”
Afghanistan captain Rashid was particularly pleased with the adaptability of his team.
“Our players have understood their roles in the team and, more importantly, have been able to adjust quickly to the conditions,” he stated, before praising another fine performance by Farooqi.
“His way of attacking (the batsman) with each and every ball allows us to have a strong base as a bowling unit. In T20 cricket, I think it’s better the more you attack as a bowling unit if the conditions are in your favour.”

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