By Rex Clementine

Afghanistan have certainly come of age in the game of cricket. A nation that has made rapid progress in sport showcased on Monday night that they are a force to be reckoned with by securing a semi-final berth in the ICC T-20 World Cup.

It was a tensed game with several stoppages due to rain but Afghanistan prevailed over Bangladesh getting over the line with the narrowest of margins – by eight runs.

When Bangladesh restricted Afghanistan to 115 runs, all three results were possible. Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Australia were all in with a chance to go through to the semi-final.

Bangladesh had to do it in 12.1 overs while Afghanistan needed to win the game to go through. Australia were hoping that Bangladesh knock down the target for them to have any chance.

It wasn’t the best of batting efforts by Afghanistan. Credit to Bangladesh bowlers for the excellent lengths they bowled to. However, their batters were poor with the intent. A more committed effort would have seen them over the line. Afghanistan’s bowling is so formidable that you perhaps back them to defend any total.

Litton Das fought a lone battle trying to help Bangladesh over the line, but there was little support from rest of the batters.

For captain Rashid Khan this was a big moment. The 19 runs he made with the help of three sixes were worth in the weight of gold. His disappointment when being denied the strike in the final over by Karim Janat summed up the story.

Then with his leg-spin he turned the game firmly in Afghanistan’s favour with a four-wicket haul.

Naveen-ul-Haq too was super against the top order and then came back to polish off the tail claiming four wickets.

Afghanistan’s premier batter Rahmanullah Gurbaz had to retire after hurting his knee while fielding. They will be hoping that the opening batter recovers before the knockouts.

It is a big moment for Afghanistan. Although their performance against Bangladesh wasn’t most convincing, they did put out a superb display against Australia in the previous game.

They now head to Trinidad to take on South Africa in the first semi-final on Wednesday. England will meet India in the second semi-final in Guyana on Thursday.

Rain kept everyone on their toes and the ground staff put on a superb effort to get play underway quickly after several interruptions. To their credit only one over was reduced when Bangladesh were set a revised target.