NEW DELHI: With a seven-wicket victory against Papua New Guinea on Thursday, Afghanistan demonstrated their increasing reputation as the dark horses of the 2024 T20 World Cup, moving on to the Super Eight stage of the competition and eliminating New Zealand.
In the Group C encounter at the Brian Lara Stadium in Trinidad, Fazalhaq Farooqi added three more victims to his tournament-leading wicket tally as PNG were bowled out for 95 off 19.5 overs batting first.
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Afghanistan faltered badly in the first over of their reply, losing both openers for the first time in the competition, but they ultimately reached the target with three wickets lost in the 16th over, securing their third consecutive victory.
Gulbadin Naib, who was dismissed off medium-pacer Alei Nao by wicketkeeper Kiplin Doriga at nine, led his team to victory with an undefeated 49 in an uninterrupted 46-wicket stand with Mohammad Nabi (16 not out). Afghanistan finished with 15.1 overs and 101-3.
This result eliminates New Zealand, who still have two group matches left, and guarantees Afghanistan’s spot in the next round together with that of the hosts, the West Indies.
Farooqi, a left-arm seamer, led another outstanding Afghan bowling attack, taking two wickets in as many overs. In the second over of the match, PNG captain Assad Vala unintentionally gave his opponents an advantage when he was run out.

After two more run-outs, Farooqi came back in the 19th over to take another wicket, finishing with three for 16, before a fourth run-out brought the game to a close.
With 12 wickets in the tournament thus far, he leads the quartet of Australian leg-spinner Adam Zampa, West Indies fast bowler Alzarri Joseph, and South African pacer Anrich Nortje by four wickets.
Doriga, who top scored with 27, and Alei Nao (13) put up 38 for the eighth wicket before Farooqi, predictably, separated them. To their credit, the Papuans showed a resolve to fight after falling to 50 for seven in the 13th over.

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