Afghanistan beat the Netherlands to boost World Cup semi-final hopes

Afghanistan beat the Netherlands to boost World Cup semi-final hopes

Afghanistan continued their late surge for a place in the World Cup semi-finals with a seven-wicket win over the Netherlands in Lucknow.

The victory moves Afghanistan level with Australia and New Zealand on eight points, with only net run-rate now keeping them out of the top four.

Hashmatullah Shahidi hit an unbeaten 56 as Afghanistan passed their target of 180 with 18.3 overs to spare.

Netherlands were earlier dismissed for 179 inside 47 overs.

The win tees up a potentially pivotal encounter against Australia in Mumbai on Tuesday, though the five-time winners have a game in hand against England on Saturday.

Afghanistan also still have to play in-form South Africa in their final group game.

Pakistan are still in the top-four race and can move to eight points if they beat New Zealand in Saturday’s early match.

Victory for New Zealand would see Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Netherlands and England all eliminated, given Australia and Afghanistan face each other, so at least one of them will score a minimum of nine points.

Afghanistan are fast becoming the revelations of this World Cup.

They had only ever won one match at a 50-over World Cup before this tournament, losing all nine matches in 2019, but have won four of their seven matches so far, including the last three.

Their inferior net run-rate and tough fixtures to come mean they remain outsiders for a top-four spot, but the fact they even have a chance is testament to their development.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat, the Netherlands recovered from the loss of Wesley Barresi in the first over to reach 66-1 after 10 – their best powerplay performance of the tournament so far.

But Max O’Dowd’s run out for 42 triggered a collapse as they slumped from 73-1 to 113-6.

Sybrand Engelbrecht showed some resistance with a battling 58 from 86 balls before he became the fourth member of the Netherlands top five to be run out – only the second time this fate has befallen any team in men’s international cricket.

Mohammad Nabi was the pick of Afghanistan’s spin-heavy attack, taking 3-28, while teenager Noor Ahmad again impressed in just his fifth ODI appearance by taking 2-31.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran fell cheaply as Afghanistan were reduced to 55-2 in reply, but the team showed great maturity to mirror earlier successful chases against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Rahmat Shah fell to Saqib Zulfiqar for 52, with 51 runs still needed, but Hashmatullah and Azmatullah Omarzai, who hit a spritely 31 from 28, saw Afghanistan home.

The Netherlands, who stay eighth on four points, are all but eliminated but can still secure qualification for the 2025 Champions Trophy in Pakistan with a top-seven finish. Eighth will be good enough if Pakistan finish in the top seven.

The Dutch take on England in Pune on Wednesday, before ending their campaign against hosts India in Bangalore on 12 November. (BBC)

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