Rashid Khan’s fine 48* (23) went in vain as Afghanistan fell short against Australia in front of a 18,672 strong crowd at the Adelaide Oval. The Asian side were 96/2 after 12 overs while chasing 169, needing just 73 off the final 8 overs, but a middle order collapse gave Australia a route back into the game, and despite Rashid’s late game heroics, the hosts held on to win by four runs.
The victory takes defending champions Australia to 7 points, but the margin was not enough for them to leapfrog England on NRR. Should Jos Buttler’s men beat Sri Lanka by any margin tomorrow, they will join New Zealand in the last four from Group 1.
The 18,672 fans in attendance was some 11,000 odd lesser than the 29,302 that had turned up at the same venue to watch India against Bangladesh two days ago. Yesterday’s SCG game between Pakistan and South Africa saw 30,351 in attendance.
Australia owed their victory to Glenn Maxwell, whose fine half century took them to 168/8 after being put in by Mohammad Nabi. He also produced the moment that turned the game the hosts’ way- running Gulbadin Naib out with a direct throw from the deep, just as it had happened with KL Rahul & Liton Das at this very ground on Wednesday.
Interestingly, the hosts made three changes- the most surprising of them being left arm quick Mitchell Starc being left out for Kane Richardson.
Afghanistan probably have themselves to blame. When they were 96/2 after 12, Ibrahim Zadran wasted nearly an entire Pat Cummins over- only 2 came off it. In the next over, it was Ibrahim who wanted a second, with Gulbadin (then on 39 off 23) run out at the non striker’s end. On the very next delivery, Ibrahim top edged on to Mitchell Marsh, and two deliveries later, Najibullah Zadran fell for a duck, and Afghanistan had imploded in their chase. When skipper Nabi fell, they were 103/6 and despite Rashid trying his best with the bat, there were simply too many to get for them at the end.