In a dominant performance, Afghanistan secured a seven-wicket victory over Papua New Guinea (PNG) in their ICC T20 World Cup match at Trinidad and Tobago, paving their way to the Super Eights stage. The triumph was celebrated by Afghanistan’s skipper, Rashid Khan, who expressed his satisfaction with the team’s performance and highlighted the importance of both bowlers and batters adopting an aggressive approach.

Rashid emphasized that it was crucial for other batters to get time in the middle and commended their form, crediting their participation in a domestic tournament before the World Cup for their current readiness. Afghanistan’s victory was underpinned by a stellar performance from pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi, who claimed a magnificent three-wicket haul, earning him the ‘Player of the Match’ award.

Gulbadin Naib also played a pivotal role, delivering a fine knock that steered Afghanistan to their target. Winning the toss, Afghanistan chose to field first, a decision that quickly paid dividends. PNG struggled against the pace attack of Farooqi and Naveen ul Haq, losing wickets at regular intervals. Despite a fighting knock from wicketkeeper-batter Kiplin Doriga, PNG was bowled out for a modest total of 95 runs in 19.5 overs.

Speaking in the post-match presentation, Rashid stasted, “Feeling great to qualify for the next round. Great effort from the boys since game one. They know what they to do and have executed beautifully, making things easy for me. It is important to have someone like Gurbaz who goes out and takes on the bowling or Farooqi who picks up wickets in the powerplay. If the batter is attacking, then as a bowler you have to attack too especially with pitches helping you.”

Chasing a target of 96 runs, Afghanistan faced early setbacks, losing their openers cheaply and finding themselves at 22/2. However, a crucial 33-run partnership between Gulbadin Naib and Azmatullah Omarzai steadied the innings. Naib’s composure, coupled with a 46-run partnership with Mohammed Nabi, guided Afghanistan to the winning total in 15.1 overs.

“They have given us good starts in the last two games and today was a good opportunity for the others to spend some time in the middle. We had a domestic competition before coming here and everyone is in form. That is the beauty of playing of franchise cricket as you know the conditions, some of them have played at St Lucia and know how the pitch will play which will help others. Everyone has the skill to adjust to any condition and hopefully, we will win that game as well,” he attached.

This victory marked Afghanistan’s third consecutive win in the tournament, ensuring their progression to the Super Eights stage alongside West Indies. The result also meant the elimination of New Zealand from the tournament, following their defeats to both Afghanistan and West Indies. The Afghan team, buoyed by their impeccable form, looks forward to continuing their strong performance in the upcoming stages of the World Cup.

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