Afghanistan stuns Australia to secure one of the sport’s biggest upsets at T20 Cricket World Cup

Damond Isiaka
3 Min Read


CNN
 — 

It was a mismatch of considerable proportions.

Australia won the T20 Cricket World Cup just three years ago, while Afghanistan has never progressed past the tournament’s second round nor defeated Australia in international cricket. But on Saturday, Afghanistan kept its hopes of progressing to the semifinals alive with a historic, comprehensive win over Australia, stunning its opponents by 21 runs.

And this was no fluke. Afghanistan was put into bat after losing the toss and its opening batters Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran promptly produced an impressive performance, both scoring half-centuries and guiding their team to 118 with no loss from 15 overs.

They were both out shortly after that, and Australia’s Pat Cummins secured a hat trick for the second consecutive match, but the damage had already been done and Afghanistan eventually posted a total of 148 for 6, helped by some poor Australian fielding.

Afghanistan's Rahmanullah Gurbaz scored 60 runs.

Australia then got off to the worst possible start in its run chase when Travis Head was bowled by Naveen-ul-Haq in the first over, and it slumped to 32 for 3 as Mitch Marsh and David Warner were dismissed cheaply too.

Glenn Maxwell restored some order with his 59 off just 41 balls but Australia’s batters never settled into a rhythm as Afghanistan used eight bowlers over the course of the innings, and the Aussies succumbed to 127 all out.

For Gulbadin Naib – who collected four wickets and the Player of the Match award – this win represented “a great moment, not only for me, but my nation, my people.”

“(Australia) is a big team, a world champion team, so for our cricket it’s a big achievement (that) we can carry to the next level. In the last 10 years, we achieved a lot of goals, so this is the big achievement in our cricket,” he added, according to the ICC.

Gulbadin Naib celebrates after dismissing Glenn Maxwell of Australia.

Such a win is not entirely unexpected. Afghanistan has been steadily improving over the past 20 years, roundly defeating England in October at the ICC Cricket World Cup and another heavyweight team New Zealand in the group stage of this tournament.

Afghanistan has a chance to reach the semifinals of the T20 World Cup if it can defeat Bangladesh in its final Super Eights match and India beats Australia. If Australia wins its final Super Eights match against India, it will likely qualify for the semifinals.

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