Afghanistan's fairy tale rise up the Associate ranks may seem like a real life Cinderella story, when the spirited Afghanistan created history upsetting the former champions West Indies at the World Twenty20.
In their last Group-1 match, played in on Sunday (27th March, 2016), Afghanistan held their nerves to finally beat West Indies with a thrilling six-run victory.
Afghanistan's four-pronged spin attack - led by 17-year-old leg spinner Rashid Khan and experienced off spinner Mohammad Nabi, restricted West Indies to 117-8 on a turning wicket. Both spinners returned with identical figures of 2-26, earlier Najibullah Zadran's 48 off 40 balls anchored them to 123-7.
For West Indies the in-form Andre Fletcher unfortunately pulled his hamstring at the end of the sixth over and left the field in pain. That opened the door for Afghanistan to have a crack at the middle order. Requiring 25 off the last two over’s, Carlos Brathwaite smacked two sixes off Gulbadin Naib's gentle medium pace but West Indies captain Darren Sammy holed out at extra cover in the same over. With 10 required off the last six balls, Brathwaite missed Nabi's first two deliveries before Zadran took a spectacular diving catch at deep mid wicket to stun the 2012 champions.
"We knew we could defend the total after watching low scoring games here in Nagpur,"Afghanistan coach Inzamam-ul-Haq said, adding, "Our spinners were fantastic today and the fielding was simply outstanding."
Importantly, Chris Gayle was not playing the game, out with the injury but he was seen celebrating the Afganistan win, post the match ceremony, in an awesome sporting and friendly gesture.
Despite the defeat, West Indies topped Group-1 over England on a superior net run-rate as both teams finished on six points with one defeat and three victories. West Indies finished as its winners and will play either India or Australia in the semi-finals. England will face New Zealand after beating Sri Lanka on Saturday.
KUDOS to Afghanistan, who lived up to its promise to at least win one match in the Super 10 stage after earlier putting up brave performances before losing to England, Sri Lanka and South Africa.