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Afghanistan make history, beat Bangladesh to reach T20 World Cup semi-final

Afghanistan advanced to their first-ever T20 World Cup semi-final after completing a dramatic eight-run victory over Bangladesh in a rain-affected clash at the Arnos Vale Stadium in St Vincent on Monday.

Defending a modest total of 115 for five on a bowler-friendly surface, Afghan captain Rashid Khan belied three rain stoppages, a slippery ball and a revised target of 114 off 19 overs to take four for 23 as Bangladesh, who themselves harboured faint hopes of making the last four, were dismissed for 105 off 17.5 overs.

An unbeaten 54 from opener Litton Das was threatening to take Bangladesh to victory and earn Australia the last semi-final spot on net run-rate.

But pacer Naveenul Haq claimed the last two wickets — Taskin Ahmed and Mustafizur Rahman — off consecutive deliveries in the penultimate over of the match to trigger delirious Afghan celebrations.

With India defeating Australia earlier in the day and advancing to the second semi-final against England in Guyana on Thursday, this result assured the Afghans of second spot in the group and eliminated the Aussies together with the Bangladeshis.

Afghanistan will now face South Africa in the first semi-final in Trinidad on Wednesday.

Hazlewood doubts ‘drastic’ changes despite early exit

Fast bowler Josh Hazlewood believes there is no “drastic” need to cull Australia’s ageing squad despite the failure to make the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup.

By the time the next World Cup rolls around in India and Sri Lanka in 2026, only one of the current 15-man squad — Cameron Green — will still be well under 30.

Green, a 24-year-old all-rounder, didn’t get to play a game in this World Cup.

“There might be a couple of changes, but a lot of the guys still play in the franchise cricket if they’re not playing for Australia, so they’re available to be picked,” said Hazlewood, himself 33.

“There’s some class players in our 15, And we’ve got a couple on the bench as well. So, you’d think it’d be an actual slow change. I don’t think there’d be anything drastic.”

What does need drastic attention is Australia’s woeful performance in the field at the tournament.

Five catches were dropped in the 21-run defeat to Afghanistan in St Vincent.

Skipper Mitchell Marsh dropped three in the group game against Scotland and crucially let the destructive Hardik Pandya off the hook in the loss to India.

Pandya went on to make an undefeated 27 off 17 balls.

“The guys are always working as hard as ever on the fielding and training and there might not be as many opportunities to work on it around games in these sort of tournaments,” said Hazlewood.

“You’re always travelling and playing. So yeah, it hasn’t been good enough for the last few games in particular.”

Hazlewood said it was “very windy” in St Lucia and that could have been a contributing factor in their sub-par performance in the field.

“It’s just as hard catching into the wind as it is down breeze, as we saw today with India as well,” he said.

“So, you see some really good fielders drop catches and I guess it’s out of the ordinary but I think once you put all that together, new stadium, windy, they’re not excuses but I guess it’s something. “

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