Afghanistan rock the cricket world, enter semis in ICC T20 World Cup

Naveen Ul Haq, the Hero for Afghanistan in the last over (Image: ACB)

There was drama, there was acting, there was history in the end made. For sheer audacity and authority, Afghanistan rocking and shocking Bangladesh to storm into the semi-final of the ICC T20 World Cup on a Tuesday morning (India time) was not from the script which had been prepared as a preview for the World Cup.

After the high adrenaline match on Monday night, when India defeated the cocky Aussies, the situation was simple: Afghanistan had to win against Bangladesh. In this World Cup, predictions have become as chaotic as a stock market caught in a bear run.

This was not a bear run, this was a bull run from Afghanistan, where Bangladesh aided them, in between. Neighbours in the sub-continent, “friendship” acquired a new meaning. To say that this was made obvious is a reality as pictures do not lie, rather TV visuals do not lie! In the end, as Afghanistan won by eight runs to enter the semi-final, the doors slammed shut on Australia. They went down under, literally!

There are celebrations for many reasons, Aussies losing, being thrown out of the World Cup as well as the emotional connect which Afghans have with the rest of the world. It’s easy to pontificate and say “friendship” was farcical as Bangladesh seemed more than happy to play meekly. But then, how can one deny the fact, Afghanistan, under Rashid Khan, have been brilliant.

Nobody gave them a chance before the World Cup. They were supposed to be minnows. But the way Rashid Khan has led, bowling, fielding and throwing heart into each effort as a leader, he has become more popular than an actor who wins multiple Oscars. In a match where rain was playing games as well, the start-stop-start pattern was not easy to focus on the match.

Yes, Litton Das showed he was ready to fight for Bangladesh, his half century worth its weight in gold. Even as wickets were falling at the other end, Litton stayed put. His concentration was monk-like and in the end, he was left stranded, literally.

As the last wicket fell, there was joy on the faces of the Afghan cricketers faces. The celebrations have begun in Afghanistan and the tremors in the cricketing world are being felt far and wide, across continents.

What a run from the Afghans, what bowling efforts from Rashid and Naveen, four wickets each. This is what sport is, underdogs barking and biting. And oh yes, goodbye Aussies!