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T20 World Cup: Zadran's fifty takes Afghanistan to 124/8 against New Zealand

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Abu Dhabi, Nov 7 (IANS) Riding on a fighting fifty by Najibullah Zadran (73 off 48), Afghanistan posted a respectable 124/8 against New Zealand in a Super 12 match of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, here on Sunday.

While Zadran was the lone warrior for Afghanistan, Gulbadin Naib (15) and Mohammad Nabi (14) also chipped in with cameos while Trent Boult 3-17 and Tim Southee 2-24 were the main wicket-takers for the Black Caps.

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After winning the toss and opting to bat first, Afghanistan were off to a terrible start as they lost three wickets inside the Power-play.

Mohammad Shahzad was the first one to get out as he tried to go for a flashy cut and got an under-edge, with wicketkeeper Conway completing the catch.

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Boult then cramped Hazratullah Zazai for room and got the left-hander to get a leading edge to midwicket. Rahmanullah Gurbaz got a full-length delivery from Southee which angled into his pads, trapping him leg before wicket. At 23/3 after the Power-play, Kane Williamson’s men were firmly on top.

From there on, Gulbadin Naib, who got promoted to No 4, rebuilt the innings with Najibullah Zadran. The left-handed Zadran broke the shackles with a four down the ground in the first over of spin, before hitting back-to-back fours on either side of the square off Jimmy Neesham.

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However, the partnership was broken by Ish Sodhi, with Naib chopping a wideish ball onto his stumps, leaving Afghanistan reeling at 56/4 at the halfway stage.

Though Afghanistan were losing wickets at regular intervals, Najibullah Zadran was holding one end firmly. He and Nabi stitched an impressive stand to take the side past the 100-run mark and to set themselves up for a big finish. In between, Zadran also completed the half-century — his second of the tournament in 33 balls.

With Zadran and Nabi at the crease, Afghanistan were set for a big finish. But an excellent diving catch by Neesham in the deep brought an end to Zadran’s innings of 73 off 48 balls, which is the highest score of his T20I career.

New Zealand made a remarkable comeback in the last two overs, taking four wickets for nine runs from the last 13 balls and restricting Afghanistan to a modest score of 124-8 in 20 overs.

Brief scores:

Afghanistan 124/8 in 20 overs (Najibullah Zadran 73; Trent Boult 3-17, Tim Southee 2-24) against New Zealand

–IANS

avn/bsk

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