T20 World Cup: ‘Something like a dream, proud of this team’, says Rashid on sealing SF berth

Kingstown (St Vincent):  Afghanistan captain Rashid Khan and his boys have finally done it for the country with a thrilling win against Bangladesh in the Super Eight to enter their first-ever semi-final in the T20 World Cup.

Afghanistan, who defeated New Zealand (group stage) and Australia (Super Eight) in the tournament, have reached the semifinal of the ICC men’s tournament for the first time. In the ODI World Cup last year in India, Afghanistan stunned England, Pakistan and Sri Lanka but failed to make it through the semifinals.

Reflecting on the win, Rashid said it is a dream come true moment for him and he is really proud of his players who have scripted history for the team. “It’s something like a dream for us as a team being in the semifinal. It’s all about the way we have started the tournament. The belief came while we beat New Zealand. It’s unbelievable, I don’t have any words to describe my feelings. Back home, everyone is so happy for this big achievement.

“The only guy who put us in the semifinal was Brian Lara and we proved that right. Before the competition at the welcome party, I told him, ‘We won’t let you down. We’ll make it through and prove you’re right.’ I am proud of this team,” Rashid said in the post-match interaction.

Despite setting a modest total of 115 in 20 overs in a rain-hit clash, Rashid and Naveen-ul-Haq bagged four wickets each to bundle out Bangladesh for 105 in 17.5 after the target was adjusted to 114 in 19 overs due to rain.

Rashid admitted they were 20 runs short of the par score but they gave their 100 per cent on the field and stuck to their plans. “We thought 130-135 was a good total on this wicket. We were 15-20 runs short. It was all about the mindset. We knew they would come hard at us to chase that in 12 overs to get into the semifinal. That’s where we could take advantage. If we bowled into the stumps, we had a better chance to getting them out.

“We didn’t have to do anything extra. We just had to be clear with our plans. We put in the effort, that’s in our hands. Rain, result is not in our hands. That 100% effort is always in our hands,” the all-rounder said.

The Afghan skipper further credited his bowlers for putting up a spirited effort in the middle. “Everyone did a wonderful job. In T20s, we have a strong base, especially in bowling. The quality of fast bowling we have got, it’s not as fast but they are more skillful. In T20s, if you have skills, you are more effective. They have given great starts in this World Cup competition so far and it becomes easy for us (spinners) in the middle where we can go hard at the batsmen.

“So happy the way they have delivered. They were very clear with their mind, that’s very pleasing. Rain was on and off, but mentally we were always there. We had to play 20 overs and we had to take 10 wickets, that’s the only way to get to the semifinal, there’s no other way. Gulbadin had some cramps I think, hopefully he’ll be alright. That wicket he took was massive for us,” Rashid said.

The scenes at Arnos Vale Ground in Kingstown were filled with emotions and joy as Afghanistan players and fans got emotional on their semifinal entry and Rashid acknowledged that, saying celebrations will continue in Afghanistan for their historic achievement.

“It’s a massive celebration back home now. It’s a big achievement for us. We have done that in the Under-19 level, being in the semifinal. But in this World Cup … I don’t have any words how to describe the feeling. The country will be very proud. I am so happy the way we have delivered as a team. We took the responsibility. Being in the semis is big, now we have to go with a clear mind. We’ll have to keep things simple and make sure we enjoy the big occasion,” he concluded.

Afghanistan will take on South Africa in the first semi-final of the T20 World Cup at Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Tarouba, Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday morning ( 6:00 am as per IST) while India will lock horns with defending champions England in the second semifinal on Thursday evening ( 8:00 pm) at the Providence Stadium, Guyana.


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