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Afghanistan stuns Australia to keep Twenty20 World Cup dream alive. India beat Bangladesh

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent (AP) — Afghanistan kept its Twenty20 World Cup semifinal hopes alive by stunning previously unbeaten Australia by 21 runs in a thrilling encounter on Saturday.

Despite a second successive hat-trick by Australian bowler Pat Cummins, Afghanistan posted 148-6 after being asked to bat first on a tricky pitch at the Arnos Vale Ground.

Afghanistan pair Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran put on 118 for the highest opening partnership against Australia in a T20 match before Australia’s bowlers rallied late, including Cummins’ second career hat-trick — just two days after his first.

Australia then stumbled with the bat and were all out for 127, with only Glenn Maxwell (59 off 41 balls) coming to grips with the superb Afghanistan bowling attack and the turning wicket.

Man of the match Guldabin Naib took four wickets in an inspired spell in the middle overs to stall Australia’s chase before Azmatullah Omarzai had final wicket Adam Zampa caught in the deep in the final over to complete a stunning win amid jubilant celebrations among the Afghan players and team management.

“It’s a massive win for us as a team and as a nation in the World Cup beating (the) champions,” captain Rashid Khan said.

“It’s so important for us in back home for everyone all around the world where Afghanistan people, the Afghans are there, you know, they are badly missing this win and I’m sure they would have been so proud of and they would have enjoyed the game and I think it’s just the beginning now for us,” he added.

The victory moves Afghanistan to two points in Group 1 and level with Australia, but behind on net run rate. India leads the group on four points. Bangladesh are bottom after two losses but still have a chance of qualifying for the semifinals.

The final group standings will be decided on Monday when Afghanistan plays Bangladesh at St. Vincent and Australia play India Monday at St. Lucia.

Earlier, Gurbaz scored 60 off 49 balls, while Zadran made a steady 51 off 48 balls as they laid a solid platform — helped by some uncharacteristically poor fielding by Australia.

Marcus Stoinis eventually made the breakthrough in the 16th over, dismissing Gurbaz which led to a flurry of wickets as the momentum shifted.

Adam Zampa (2-28) took two wickets in the next over, including Zadran’s, before Pat Cummins again came to the fore.

The seam bowler had Rashid Khan (two) caught by Tim David in the deep with the final ball off the 18th over.

Cummins (3-28) returned to bowl the final over of the innings and with his first ball had Karim Janat (13) again caught by David.

For the hat-trick ball Cummins’ cleverly disguised a slower delivery which Guldabin Naib could only loft to Glenn Maxwell running in from the boundary to claim the catch.

Australia stumbled early in the chase as it lost Travis Head bowled by Naveen-ul-Haq for no score with the third ball of the innings.

Captain Mitchell Marsh (12) played two big shots before he was Naveen’s second wicket and when David Warner (three) was out to spinner Mohammad Nabi’s first ball the Aussies were in trouble at 32-3 in the sixth over.

Stoinis and Maxwell steadied the Australian innings as they reached 70-3 at the halfway stage.

Gulbadin (4-20) was the eighth bowler used by Afghanistan inside the first 11 overs and it paid a near instant dividend as Stoinis could only sky a pull shot which was caught by Gurbaz.

Gulbadin then removed David (two) and when the allrounder had Maxwell spectacularly caught by Noor Ahmad an upset victory appeared likely.

Australia’s lower order batters couldn’t find the big hits that the moment demanded either and when veteran Nabi took a catch on the boundary to dismiss Zampa (nine), Afghanistan’s deserved victory was confirmed.

India beats Bangladesh by 50 runs

At North Sound, Antigua, Hardik Pandya blasted Bangladesh with a 27-ball half-century and Kuldeep Yadav's three wickets finished off India's win earlier Saturday.

Pandya struck four boundaries and three sixes in an unbeaten 50 to lead India to 196-5.

Yadav then took 3-19 in four overs to limit Bangladesh to 146-8.

India moved to the top of Group 1 in the Super Eight with two wins from two matches. Afghanistan moved to two points after it beat Australia by 21 runs later Saturday, but stayed behind Australia in third place on net run rate. Bangladesh remained winless.

Put into bat, India started quick as captain Rohit Sharma scored 23 off 11 balls. Virat Kohli added 37 off 28, hitting three sixes. The duo put on 39 off 22 balls for India’s best opening stand in the tournament.

Sharma was caught in the fourth over off Shakib al Hasan, while Kohli put on another 32 off 27 balls with Rishabh Pant for the second wicket.

Tanzim Hasan Sakib struck twice in the ninth over, getting Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav for 6 as India slumped to 77-3.

But Rishabh Pant anchored one end with 36 off 24, including four fours and two sixes, putting on 31 off 19 balls with Shivam Dube.

Despite Pant’s dismissal in the 12th over, Dube’s prowess against spin came in handy — he hit three sixes, scoring 34 off 24 balls.

But it was Pandya who took charge in the death overs. India scored 62 runs in the last five overs.

Pandya was named player of the match.

“We have played some really good cricket (to win five straight games),” he said. "We have executed our plans well, but as a group we can still improve. We sometimes lose wickets in a bunch, but apart from that things are looking good.”

Bangladesh's reply made a steady start. Openers Litton Das (13) and Tanzid Hasan (29) added 35 off 27 until Pandya got the breakthrough in the fifth over.

The Tigers were at 66-2 in the 10th over and scoring slower. The chase unravelled when Yadav came on to bowl. He trapped Hasan lbw, and dismissed Towhid Hridoy for 4 and claimed the big wicket of Shakib for 11.

Bangladesh lost three wickets for 32 runs across 24 balls and didn't recover.

Pace bowlers Jasprit Bumrah (2-13) and Arshdeep Singh (2-30) helped to seal India’s fifth win over Bangladesh in the T20 World Cup.

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AP cricket: https://apnews.com/hub/cricket

The Associated Press